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Slovak Telecom fined heavily

MONOPOLY fixed-line operator Slovak Telecom has been hit with the biggest fine ever for a Slovak firm. The Slovak Antitrust authority (PMÚ) fined ST Sk885 million (€23 million) for abusing its monopoly position.

The fine in fact is the twenty-first action taken against the company by the PMÚ since 2001, the financial daily Hospodárske Noviny reported.

ST has to pay 5.26 percent of last’s year turnover because of its reluctance to provide its competitors access to local lines.

If ST were to pay the maximum fine based on the law protecting economic competition it would have to pay Sk1.68 billion (€42.9 million).

According to the ruling, Slovak Telecom is the sole owner and administrator of a fixed-line telecommunications network on Slovak territory, a component of which are local loops, sometimes referred to as "the last mile," the SITA news wire reported.

This serves to connect terminal points in subscribers' premises and a main switchboard or equivalent device in the public fixed-line network: an exchange.

As the owner of local loops Slovak Telecom restricted its competitors' operation on associated markets by not allowing them access to local loops.

“It [ST] has used ownership of the system of local loops to maintain or strengthen its position on the associated markets, such as the market in providing Internet services, PMÚ spokesman Miroslav Jurkovič informed the media.

In determining the volume of the fine the Antitrust Office took into account, apart from repeated violation of the law, the seriousness and extent of the unlawful conduct.

ST has 15 days to appeal the decision.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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