The Competition Council imposes fine against France Telecom

06 February 2008

Romain Ferla

On 15 October 2007, the Competition Council adopted a decision fining France Telecom for an abuse of dominance. The Competition Council’s decision concerned the conditions under which Wanadoo had been marketing ADSL access offers between January 2001 and July 2002.

The Competition Council ordered France Telecom to pay a fine of €45 million. The Council stressed that France Telecom abused its dominant position on the local loop market in favouring the marketing of access services by its subsidiary to the detriment of the competing internet access providers.

The decision closed a series of injunctions and decisions in which the Competition Council and the European Commission penalised France Telecom for practices aimed at pre-empting the high-speed internet access market, emerging at that time, for the benefit of its subsidiary.

The Competition Council imposed fines on France Telecom for having implemented the following discriminatory practices:

  • Information relating to the eligibility of ADSL lines which was made available by France Telecom to the competing internet access providers was less updated and less detailed than that provided to its subsidiary. The ADSL online order system was also not as quick and as direct for the rivals.

  • France Telecom sales representatives were encouraged to talk down their rivals.

  • France Telecom used data which it was the only one to possess to facilitate the marketing of its subsidiary’s services.

The reiteration of these infringements (France Telecom being a repeated offender) led the Competition Council to increase by 50% the amount of the fine incurred.

The Competition Council reduced the fine by 25%, taking into account the fact that France Telecom has refrained from denying the objections made against it and has made certain operational commitments aimed at avoiding a recurrence of these practices.

France Telecom made the following commitments for the future:

  • to set up a monitoring system facilitating the identification of complaints linked to competition based contentious acts or practices

  • to implement corrective measures at the individual and collective levels

  • to set up a competition law training and information programmes for their sales networks

Source: Decision of the Competition Council No 07-D-33 of October 15, 07 http://www.conseil-concurrence.fr/pdf/avis/07d33.pdf