Hungaryʼs Competition Office (GVH) said Thursday it had conducted unannounced on-site probes a day earlier at the headquarters of Magyar Telekom and Telenor Hungary, on suspicion of collusion between the two telcos in connection with a broadband frequency tender, state news agency MTI and other sources reported this morning.
The GVH said it suspects the two telcos colluded in tenders for broadband spectrum licenses, according to reports. The office has six months in which to complete its investigation, but may extend this deadline twice by another six months each time, it added.
The office suspects that Magyar Telekom and Telenor Hungary reached agreements concerning the competitive tender announced and conducted by the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) in 2014, aimed at granting frequency licenses for broadband services. It suspects that discussions between the two firms might have been aimed at dividing up the market affected by the tender ahead of time, as well as coordinating their submitted bids. Such conduct would be in breach of competition law and related EU provisions pertaining to the prohibition of agreements that restrict competition, the GVH stated.
At the same time, the office stressed that the launch of the procedure does not represent a declaration of actual wrongdoing, but is aimed at clarifying the facts and seeking proof of any alleged breach.
Magyar Telekom and Telenor Hungary each issued statements saying that they are cooperating with the GVH, but insisted they had not violated any rules.
Telenor Hungaryʼs parent issued a statement declaring that it will inform its shareholders of the procedure and its nature, assuring them of the legality of its conduct, but declined to comment further while the legal procedure is ongoing.
Magyar Telekom stated that it is, and has always been, in compliance with valid regulations and had not conducted any discussions with its rival regarding the 2014 frequency tender.