Vodafone Group today announced that Vodafone Netherlands has commenced legal action against the incumbent telecoms operator in the Netherlands, KPN, alleging anti-competitive behaviour in the Dutch convergent communications market to the detriment of competition and consumer choice.
Vodafone Netherlands’ legal action states that KPN delayed by three years the nationwide introduction of Vodafone’s competing TV, fixed-line broadband and fixed-line telephone proposition, Vodafone Thuis, by failing repeatedly to meet its commitments to deliver the technology needed. The former state telecoms monopoly KPN owns and operates the Netherlands’ only nationwide telephone network – using copper lines to connect households and businesses across the country – as well as the country’s largest fibre-optic network. Other operators without the benefits of this nationwide fixed-line infrastructure must rely on KPN’s network in order to compete. The delays resulted in Vodafone Netherlands being unable to compete effectively with KPN (and cable providers) in the Dutch telecoms market until 2014.
Although KPN did not deliver the services agreed to Vodafone Netherlands, KPN was able to launch a comparable ‘all-in-one’ package under its own brand and that of its subsidiary, Telfort, thereby preventing Vodafone Netherlands from gaining a significant market share in a crucial period when more than 100,000 households per quarter chose to move to ‘all-in-one’ propositions.1 KPN’s refusal to supply Vodafone Netherlands qualifies as abuse of a dominant market position and resulted in an estimated €115 million in damages for Vodafone Netherlands.