SBB demands fair competition with state-owned Telekom Srbija

Source: N1

A hearing before the Administrative Court in Belgrade on Monday following a lawsuit filed by SBB against the state-owned Telekom Srbija was open to the public, but journalists were not allowed to cover it.

According to SBB, the largest cable television provider and second-largest broadband internet provider in Serbia, Republic Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services RATEL had imposed many obligations on SBB and Telekom regarding the access of other operators to their network.

SBB has sued RATEL for its decision from July 2019, saying the Telekom Srbija represented operators with significant market power as a monopolist.

The company believes Telekom controls vital infrastructure and is a far stronger operator in the Internet market, and that SBB should not even be subject to RATEL regulation.

As an argument, SBB says it has less customer coverage, but that RATEL ignored the large acquisitions Telekom had in the previous period.

„Telekom Srbija has previously been allowed to provide access to the network of copper wires for telephone lines, based on which the Internet was first provided. When RATEL made the decision, it also regulated SBB, saying it is a powerful operator, basically a monopolist,“ SBB Veljko Smiljanic told N1.

 He added it was clear „to each of us as a user that such a claim is unsustainable. We know that Telekom Srbija as a state operator and SBB as the largest private operator are very fierce competitors. RATEL ignored that as well and free from the regulation the entire SuperNova network which Telekom bought and the entire optics that Telekom had been building together with Huawei throughout Serbia in recent years.“

„We believe that such a solution is unsustainable and we hope that the court will agree with us,“ he added.

SBB’s lawyer said RATEL’s decision was illegal and ignored the optical infrastructure that Telekom Srbija was building, and establishing control over the network and denying access to other operators,“ leaving them to use only the old infrastructure.

„Besides, RATEL is trying to regulate SBB, which is a smaller operator in the market and the only Telekom’s competitor,“ the lawyer said.

„During today’s hearing, we presented our arguments. RATEL’s representatives did not appear, and we hope that the court would annul its decisions within a maximum of 30 days and enable fair competition between state and private operators,“ Smiljanic said.

SBB is a part of the United Group, within which N1 operates.