The Belgian competition authority, the Belgian Competition Council (BCC), has slapped incumbent Belgacom with a fine of EUR66.3 million (USD92.6 million) relating to its mobile phone unit, Proximus, Reuters reports. The fine has been levied in response to what the watchdog called Belgacom’s abuse of its dominant position, and is the largest penalty ever handed down by the BCC. It is understood that the fine covers the 2004-2005 period, in which the mobile operator allegedly set out to unfairly exclude rivals, and the BCC found that the prices charged to consumers by the cellco were lower than the wholesale prices charged to its rivals; the examination of Proximus’ operations for this period stems from a complaint in 2005 by cellco BASE. ‘Competitors were unable to propose prices to their clients for communications towards the Proximus network that were more interesting or even similar to the prices that Proximus could offer to its clients’, a BCC statement on the matter noted. Belgacom has said it intends to consider the ruling, and is likely to ascertain whether there are grounds for an appeal in the next few days.
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