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Montenegro Telecom Companies Suspected Of Violating Competition Rules

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By Borislav Visnjic 

Telecommunication companies operating in Montenegro could be punished if an investigation proves that they violated competition rules, the country’s Agency for the Protection of Competition told BIRN.

On Tuesday, it initiated proceedings against all three telecommunication companies operating in Montenegro on suspicion of violating competition rules.

It said it is examining the documents of Montenegrin Telekom, M:Tel and One which have or may have as a goal or consequence the prevention, limitation or distortion of competition.

The explanation of the decision, signed by the director of the agency, Nebojsa Jovovic, said that on March 12, the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services EKIP had submitted an initiative to investigate the violation of competition.

The documentation claims that Montenegrin Telekom, One and M:tel violated competition through written, oral or tacit agreements that determine the conditions on the market for electronic communication services and that prevented effective competition.

The President of the Council of the Agency, Dragan Damjanovic, explained to BIRN that they will investigate whether the companies had agreed prices at certain intervals, increasing prices of services in the same way.

“Such an agreement is prohibited … if suspicions are proven, the agreement is automatically canceled and possible fines for companies range from one to 10 per cent of revenue in the previous year. This would eventually be decided by the court,” said Damjanovic.

Along with the Initiative for an investigation submitted to the Agency, accompanying documentation contains three individual acts of these three companies from February this year.

“It was established that in those acts it was stated that in relation to the mobile telephony market of electronic communication services in … Montenegro, for prepaid users, the amount of the minimum prepaid top-up at all three operators is increased with the same amount, with an identical deadline for top-up of the user’s account, with the notification that for all three operators, implementation of the mentioned changes will start from the same day, that is, from April 1,” media reported on Tuesday.

BIRN sent questions to the companies, but only Montenegrin Telekom responded. It said it could not comment on an investigation that is ongoing. “The Agency for the Protection of Competition …. can count on the full cooperation and availability of Telekom in order to adequately clarify all the details,” it told BIRN.

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