Norway’s largest cellco by subscribers, Telenor Norge, is reportedly facing a record fine over allegations that it has not provided those customers taking services via its wholesale partners with the same connection speeds offered to its own subscribers. According to ZDNet, the Norwegian Post & Telecoms Authority (NPT) has notified the operator of a NOK5 million (USD620,000) penalty for violating the electronic communications law, with the fine levied at Telenor for its
alleged failure to meet the obligation to provide its wholesale customers with access to its 2G and 3G networks on the same terms as its own retail operations.
The decision comes in the wake of a complaint lodged by Network Norway, which is owned by Tele2 Norge, earlier this year. With Tele2 (including Network Norway) renting network capacity from Telenor in those areas where the former has no network infrastructure of its own, it has been claimed that Telenor capped the bitrate allocated to those customers signed up to operators which have domestic roaming agreements with the market leader. As such, while Telenor’s own subscribers were offered theoretical maximum download speeds of up to 40Mbps on its 3G network, by comparison Tele2’s customers were capped at 8Mbps downstream. In response to the development, Frode Lillebakken, legal director at Tele2’s Norge, was cited as saying: ‘There’s no doubt that Telenor has acted in a manner that damages the competition situation in the mobile market in Norway.’
For its part, Telenor has claimed that, with such bandwidth caps having been in use since 2010, roaming partners have in fact been given the maximum bitrate available at the time that any domestic roaming deal was signed. With the NPT decision calling for Telenor to offer the same speeds and service to those operators with which it has a domestic roaming agreement, the operator has argued that such a situation would likely impact the development of its 4G network; the NPT’s ruling, however, states that Telenor’s LTE network is not covered by the partner access obligation that exists in the company’s 3G licence.
Telenor now has 14 days to respond to the decision, and it is understood that if it cannot provide ‘substantial evidence’ demonstrating that the NPT’s findings are wrong, the ruling will stand. The telco meanwhile can lodge an appeal against the fine with the Ministry of Transport and Communications.