The European Commission has reached the preliminary conclusion that the network-sharing agreement between O2/CETIN and T-Mobile in the Czech Republic is restricting competition and harming innovation in breach of EU antitrust rules. CETIN is a mobile infrastructure and wholesale business which is part of the O2 Group.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “In the present case, we have concerns that the network-sharing agreement between the two major operators in Czechia reduces competition in the more densely populated areas of the country.“
Network sharing began in 2011 in the Czech Republic, but has steadily increased in scope to cover all mobile technologies and 85% of the population (the whole country with the exception of Prague and Brno).
The EC acknowledges that network sharing can reduce costs and increase efficiency, but says that the highly concentrated nature of the Czech market means that it has removed the incentive for the two biggest mobile operators to invest in their networks.
The Commission opened a formal investigation into the issue back in October 2016 and has now sent a statement of objection.
- O2 CZ is a mobile communications subsidiary of the PPF Group, with more than 6 million lines, both fixed and mobile.
- T-Mobile CZ is a mobile communications subsidiary of the Deutsche Telekom group.
- Vodafone is the third player and considerably smaller than the other two. It has no fixed line assets and is not involved in the network-sharing deal.