Monthly Archives: December 2004

RUSSIAN MOBILE GROWTH ATTRACTS MAFIA PRACTICES – DECEMBER 2004

The Russian mobile market has always been interesting, partly due to its exploding growth and partly due to the battle between its three large national players. It has just got more interesting.

Vimpel Communications (VimpelCom), the second largest mobile operator has been hit by a claim for unpaid taxes of 4.4 billion roubles (reported as being around US$157 million), in a move reminiscent of the case concerning oil producer Yukos. VimpelCom had already been having other regulatory problems but they had appeared to have blown over in the last couple of months. The latest move dwarfs its other difficulties.

There are big stakes to play for in the Russian mobile market. Subscribers reached a total of 65.59 million at the end of November, up by 6.15% during the month, according to figures from Advanced Communications & Media (AC&M). Annual growth rates are slowing gradually from the 100% experienced in early 2004 but remain very high. AC&M put the national penetration rate at 45.2% at end-November. Penetration in Moscow has reached a massive 92.1%, with numbers of subscribers up a surprisingly high 3.31% during the month. St Petersburg is not far behind with penetration at 83.8% but growth seems to be levelling off, with monthly subscriber growth of only 1.92% during November. The highest growth rates are in the ‘regions’, as the rest of the Russian market is termed. Subscriber numbers outside Moscow and St Petersburg rose by 7.71%.

The two largest national operators, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and VimpelCom enjoyed the biggest share of these new subscribers. VimpelCom had monthly subscriber growth of 7.38% during November and MTS just over 6%. MTS still has the largest national market share at just under 35% but VimpelCom’s market share improved to 34.2% during the month, up from 33.8%. The third, and smallest, national operator, MegaFon, has a national market share of 19.4%. Fourth and fifth largest operators, far behind the big three, are regional operators Uralsvyazinform, with market share of just under 3%, and SMARTS with around 2.6%.

VimpelCom is catching up after experiencing Ministry delays in approving new numbering capacity earlier in 2004, which caused it to reduce its cut-off period for inactive pre-paid customers from 6 months to 4 months in June 2004. The problems were solved with the award of 5.6 million new numbers in August 2004. VimpelCom has now reverted to a 6-month inactive prepaid user cut-off period, perhaps accounting for some of its subscriber growth.

VimpelCom has also experienced other difficulties. It has been seeking frequencies in the far east region of Russia but was told it must acquire a local network. However, it would appear that competitor MTS received the frequencies it required. In late February 2004 VimpelCom claimed the regulator had not only refused to award it a concession to operate in the Far East region, but had turned down 97 of its requests for additional bandwidth to enhance the capacity of its existing GSM systems.

VimpelCom has had further problems with a recent action brought against it by the local Moscow regulator because VimpelCom’s licence to provide services in Moscow is held through its subsidiary KB Impuls, under an agency agreement approved back in 1998. The regulators said the agreement did not directly allow Vimpelcom to sell services on behalf of KB Impuls. VimpelCom claimed that the licence arrangement had passed repeated regulatory checks since 1998. VimpelCom sued the regulator. Despite winning a court case proving that it had broken no law, VimpelCom was still ordered by the Ministry to correct the situation. VimpelCom has resolved the matter by merging KB Impuls into the parent company, which was approved by the Anti-Monopoly Service in June 2004. It is KB Impuls in particular that is now being targeted by the tax demands.

All three Russian national mobile operators are controlled by large Russian-owned groups, each with a major west European telecoms operator as a partner. MTS is majority owned by Sistema with Deutsche Telekom as its partner. VimpelCom is owned by the Alfa Group (itself controlled by the ‘oligarch’, Mr Mikhail Fridman) with Telenor as its partner. Alfa Group is one of Russia’s wealthiest financial-industrial groups and in addition to its share of VimpelCom also owns a large stake in international oil major TNK-BP. MegaFon is owned by Telecominvest and TeliaSonera. Sistema, Alfa and Telecominvest also have substantial interests in fixed-line operators in addition to their mobile telecoms holdings.

It has been suggested that VimpelCom’s problems date from August 2003, when Alfa Group purchased a fairly large share (25%) in rival MegaFon, a move that other MegaFon shareholders claimed to have first heard about in the press. In then transpired that IPOC, a Bermuda-based investment company, which owns a stake in MegaFon directly and is also a major shareholder in Telecominvest, claimed to have bought the same shares back in 2001. The battle is ongoing with numerous court cases in the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands.

The long-standing Russian minister responsible for communications, Mr Leonid Reiman, originally founded Telecominvest and is rumoured to have retained connections with both Telecominvest and IPOC, and maybe even principal ownership. MegaFon is the most recently established of the three national operators and there have been accusations that it has received preferential treatment, including being awarded a licence for Moscow in 2000 without a tender process. Mr Reiman was himself having a few problems earlier in 2004, mysteriously demoted by President Putin but then reinstated shortly afterwards.

One thing is for certain the activities are not going to improve the already battered business image Russia has in the international market. It looks like that after other industries telecoms is no also being infiltrated by corruption and mafia practises.

www.budde.com.au

RUSSIAN MOBILE GROWTH ATTRACTS MAFIA PRACTICES

The Russian mobile market has always been interesting, partly due to its exploding growth and partly due to the battle between its three large national players. It has just got more interesting.

Vimpel Communications (VimpelCom), the second largest mobile operator has been hit by a claim for unpaid taxes of 4.4 billion roubles (reported as being around US$157 million), in a move reminiscent of the case concerning oil producer Yukos. VimpelCom had already been having other regulatory problems but they had appeared to have blown over in the last couple of months. The latest move dwarfs its other difficulties.

There are big stakes to play for in the Russian mobile market. Subscribers reached a total of 65.59 million at the end of November, up by 6.15% during the month, according to figures from Advanced Communications & Media (AC&M). Annual growth rates are slowing gradually from the 100% experienced in early 2004 but remain very high. AC&M put the national penetration rate at 45.2% at end-November. Penetration in Moscow has reached a massive 92.1%, with numbers of subscribers up a surprisingly high 3.31% during the month. St Petersburg is not far behind with penetration at 83.8% but growth seems to be levelling off, with monthly subscriber growth of only 1.92% during November. The highest growth rates are in the ‘regions’, as the rest of the Russian market is termed. Subscriber numbers outside Moscow and St Petersburg rose by 7.71%.

The two largest national operators, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and VimpelCom enjoyed the biggest share of these new subscribers. VimpelCom had monthly subscriber growth of 7.38% during November and MTS just over 6%. MTS still has the largest national market share at just under 35% but VimpelCom’s market share improved to 34.2% during the month, up from 33.8%. The third, and smallest, national operator, MegaFon, has a national market share of 19.4%. Fourth and fifth largest operators, far behind the big three, are regional operators Uralsvyazinform, with market share of just under 3%, and SMARTS with around 2.6%.

VimpelCom is catching up after experiencing Ministry delays in approving new numbering capacity earlier in 2004, which caused it to reduce its cut-off period for inactive pre-paid customers from 6 months to 4 months in June 2004. The problems were solved with the award of 5.6 million new numbers in August 2004. VimpelCom has now reverted to a 6-month inactive prepaid user cut-off period, perhaps accounting for some of its subscriber growth.

VimpelCom has also experienced other difficulties. It has been seeking frequencies in the far east region of Russia but was told it must acquire a local network. However, it would appear that competitor MTS received the frequencies it required. In late February 2004 VimpelCom claimed the regulator had not only refused to award it a concession to operate in the Far East region, but had turned down 97 of its requests for additional bandwidth to enhance the capacity of its existing GSM systems.

VimpelCom has had further problems with a recent action brought against it by the local Moscow regulator because VimpelCom’s licence to provide services in Moscow is held through its subsidiary KB Impuls, under an agency agreement approved back in 1998. The regulators said the agreement did not directly allow Vimpelcom to sell services on behalf of KB Impuls. VimpelCom claimed that the licence arrangement had passed repeated regulatory checks since 1998. VimpelCom sued the regulator. Despite winning a court case proving that it had broken no law, VimpelCom was still ordered by the Ministry to correct the situation. VimpelCom has resolved the matter by merging KB Impuls into the parent company, which was approved by the Anti-Monopoly Service in June 2004. It is KB Impuls in particular that is now being targeted by the tax demands.

All three Russian national mobile operators are controlled by large Russian-owned groups, each with a major west European telecoms operator as a partner. MTS is majority owned by Sistema with Deutsche Telekom as its partner. VimpelCom is owned by the Alfa Group (itself controlled by the ‘oligarch’, Mr Mikhail Fridman) with Telenor as its partner. Alfa Group is one of Russia’s wealthiest financial-industrial groups and in addition to its share of VimpelCom also owns a large stake in international oil major TNK-BP. MegaFon is owned by Telecominvest and TeliaSonera. Sistema, Alfa and Telecominvest also have substantial interests in fixed-line operators in addition to their mobile telecoms holdings.

It has been suggested that VimpelCom’s problems date from August 2003, when Alfa Group purchased a fairly large share (25%) in rival MegaFon, a move that other MegaFon shareholders claimed to have first heard about in the press. In then transpired that IPOC, a Bermuda-based investment company, which owns a stake in MegaFon directly and is also a major shareholder in Telecominvest, claimed to have bought the same shares back in 2001. The battle is ongoing with numerous court cases in the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands.

The long-standing Russian minister responsible for communications, Mr Leonid Reiman, originally founded Telecominvest and is rumoured to have retained connections with both Telecominvest and IPOC, and maybe even principal ownership. MegaFon is the most recently established of the three national operators and there have been accusations that it has received preferential treatment, including being awarded a licence for Moscow in 2000 without a tender process. Mr Reiman was himself having a few problems earlier in 2004, mysteriously demoted by President Putin but then reinstated shortly afterwards.

One thing is for certain the activities are not going to improve the already battered business image Russia has in the international market. It looks like that after other industries telecoms is no also being infiltrated by corruption and mafia practises.

www.budde.com.au

Eesti Telekom subsidiary acquires Estonian Internet service provider

Estonian telecomms operator AS Eesti Telekom said on Thursday (30 December) that its wholly owned subsidiary Elion Enterprises Ltd would purchase 100% of the shares of the Estonian regional Internet service provider Viru Net OU.

The transaction was valued at EEK5.0m.

AS Eesti Telekom is a subsidiary of the Finnish-Swedish telecomms operator TeliaSonera AB through its subsidiary Baltic Tele AB.

TELECOMWORLDWIRE

TeliaSonera is abusing its dominant position

B2 Bredband AB, a provider of electronic communications services has filed suit in the Swedish Market Court against TeliaSonera AB. It is alleged that TeliaSonera is abusing its dominant position in the markets for telephone services from a fixed location and access to the public telephone network at a fixed location.

Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP

Latvian Competition Council closes investigation into abuse of dominance by the Latvian public fixed telephone network operator SIA Lattelekom

The Latvian Competition Council has closed its investigation into a complaint by SIA Beta Telekom that SIA Lattelekom has abused its dominant position by predatory pricing and by cross-subsidising from its fixed telephone network operation, a market in which Lattelekom has decisive influence. The Competition Council found that Lattelekom is not carrying out its activities with the objective of excluding competitors from the market for the supply, installation and servicing of office telephone exchanges.

Practicallaw.com

TeliaSonera – abuse of market power

On December 2, the Competition Authority sued TeliaSOnera in the Stockholm District Court for abuse of its dominant position in the Swedish broadband market resulting from margin-aqueezing practices (T32862-04).

TeliaSonera owns the fixed-line telecommunications network encompassing all households in the country, and uses this network to sell communications services direct to consumers.
TeliaSonera also acts as a wholesaler, offering competing operators access to its network, After investigation, the Competition Authority found that TeliaSOnera’s competitors were subjected to a marginsqueeze, whereby the margin between TeliaSonera’s retail and wholesale prices was insufficient to cover TeliaSonera’s costs for offering retail broadband service. According to the competition Authority, TeliaSonera abused its dominant position in the wholesale market in order to strengthen its position in the end-user market, which had the effect of impeding competitiors from entering the market for broadband services.

Cleary Gottlieb

Telekomui – kaltinimai diskriminavimu

Sigita Migonytė

Trys bendrovės kaltina DSL interneto rinkoje dominuojantį “Lietuvos telekomą” diskriminuojant kitus šių paslaugų teikėjus. Jos kreipėsi į ryšių reguliuotoją prašydamos imtis reguliuoti interneto prieigos teikimo DSL technologija rinką.
Šiuo metu bendrovės, norinčios teikti plačiajuosčio interneto paslaugas, grįstas DSL technologija, turi pasirašyti sutartį su šių paslaugų didmenininke AB “Lietuvos telekomas”. Telekomas tokias sutartis yra pasirašęs su 12 bendrovių. DSL internetą teikiančios UAB „Baltnetos komunikacijos“ (BK) ir UAB „Microlink Lietuva“ (ML) bei į šią rinką žengti ketinančios UAB „Tele2“ vadovai vakar surengtoje spaudos konferencijoje teigė, jog šioje rinkoje yra susidariusi paradoksali padėtis. “Mums didmenines DSL paslaugas iš telekomo tenka pirkti brangiau, nei jis jas siūlo savo mažmeniniams klientams. Tokiomis sąlygomis konkuruoti neįmanoma, nes net neįskaičiavus visų sąnaudų mūsų DSL paslaugos vartotojui bus brangesnės nei telekomo“, – teigia Mindaugas Pranskevičius, BK plėtros direktorius.

“Didmeninės kainos nekinta jau dvejus metus, nors mažmenines tuo laikotarpiu telekomas mažino ne kartą. Be to, telekomas didmeninių paslaugų teikėjams taiko ir mokesčius, kurių neskaičiuoja mažmeniniams klientams”, – pritaria Saulius Balčiūnas, ML Tinklo departamento direktorius.
Pasak jų, telekomo nustatytos sąlygos neleidžia kitiems rinkos dalyviams teikti dalies DSL paslaugų ir konkuruoti dėl privačių vartotojų. “Dabar galime konkuruoti tik dėl verslo klientų – siūlyti brangesnes paslaugas, kai mėnesinė sąskaita siekia ne mažiau kaip 150 Lt”, – teigia jie.

Viltis – RRT

Petras Masiulis, „Tele2“ generalinis direktorius, pabrėžia, jog telekomas akivaizdžiai stengiasi išstumti iš DSL rinkos esamus dalyvius ir užkirsti kelią naujokams. “Todėl vartotojams šios paslaugos vis dar brangios”, – sako bendrovės, kuri DSL internetą tikisi pasiūlyti kitų metų sausį arba vasarį, vadovas.
“Šiuo metu telekomo sąlygos mums apsimokėtų konkuruoti tik verslo segmente siūlant itin spartų interneto ryšį”, – aiškina jis.
Šios bendrovės vakar kreipėsi į Ryšių reguliavimo tarnybą (RRT) prašydamos atlikti DSL interneto rinkos tyrimą ir įpareigoti telekomą, kad didmeninės DSL ryšio kainos neviršytų mažmeninių ir kad kitiems rinkos dalyviams paslauga būtų teikiama tokiomis pačiomis sąlygomis kaip ir telekomo mažmenų padaliniui. Taip pat – kad telekomas būtų įpareigotas teikti kitoms bendrovėms visas didmenines paslaugas ir visų mažmeninių paslaugų analogus.

Bendrovės ketina kreiptis ir į Konkurencijos tarybą, kad ši apribotų telekomo piktnaudžiavimą DSL rinkoje.

Telekomas pasirengęs

Tomas Lamanauskas, RRT direktoriaus pavaduotojas, sako, jog, Europos Komisijos duomenimis, Lietuvoje, palyginti su kitomis ES šalimis, DSL technologija grįstos paslaugos užima mažiausią plačiajuosčio ryšio rinkos dalį.

“Taigi pas mus konkuruoja ne viena technologija, kuria galima teikti panašias paslaugas”, – aiškina jis. RRT iki kitų metų pabaigos planuoja ištirti plačiajuostės prieigos didmeninę rinką ir jei nustatys, kad joje nėra efektyvios konkurencijos, telekomui bus nustatyti tam tikri įpareigojimai.

“Tačiau yra ir kitas kelias. Jei šios bendrovės kreiptųsi į RRT dėl ginčo sprendimo, per 4 mėnesius nustatytume, ar telekomas nepažeidžia tų įsipareigojimų, kurių jis turi laikytis jau šiandien. Tačiau iki šiol į mus niekas nesikreipė”, – aiškina jis.
Darius Didžgalvis, telekomo Didmeninės prekybos departamento vadovas, sako, jog bendrovė pasirengusi tam, kad RRT reguliuos interneto prieigos rinką.

“Tačiau interneto kainos Lietuvoje yra vienos iš mažiausių Europoje. Pas mus veikia per 90 interneto teikėjų. DSL technologija tėra vienas iš būdų teikti internetą. Be to, telekomas bene vienintelis Baltijos valstybėse teikia didmenines DSL paslaugas. Estijoje, Latvijoje, kiekviena įmonė, norėdama teikti DSL internetą, savarankiškai investuoja į prieigos technologijas”, – sako jis. Anot jo, operatoriai visada turi alternatyvą – pasinaudojus telekomo prieigos pasiūlymais statyti savo įrangą ir teikti DSL technologijomis grįstas paslaugas.


VŽ Nr. 249 (5 psl.), Žinios

Kaip AB “Lietuvos telekomas” (TeliaSonera AB) diskriminuoja konkurentus Internet rinkoje – 2000 07 31 d. įsakymas N 323

AB “Lietuvos telekomas” (TeliaSonera) gen. direktoriaus įsakymas N 323 neteisetas

TeliaSonera Sued For Misusing Monopoly

The Nordic regions largest telecom operator, TeliaSonera, has been sued by Swedish regulators for misusing its monopoly on land lines here to get an unfair edge on the broadband market.

At Stockholm District court, the Competition Authority said the company had rented out its land telephone lines at a higher profit margin in order to sell services like broadband internet access with minimum profit margins, giving competitors an unfair disadvantage, and harming the consumer.

The CA director Claes Norgren said ” Misusing a dominating position is a serious breach of competion rules.”

TeliaSonera denied the charges, saying its prices for services were «financially justified and in accordance with current competition rules. The company said it will fight the lawsuit.

Radio Sweden

TeliaSonera fined for abusive behaviour

On 21 December 2004, the SCA announced that the SCA is suing TeliaSonera for abusing its dominant position in the Swedish broadband market. The agency called on the Stockholm City Court to impose an administrative fine on the company of SEK 144 million. By its actions, TeliaSonera has limited competition in the market for broadband services.

TeliaSonera owns the fixed-line telecommunications network encompassing all households in the country. It uses the network to sell its own telecommunications services to consumers, but also offers other operators access to it.

The SCA investigated the market situation and found that TeliaSonera’s competitors had been subjected to what is termed a margin squeeze. This means that the margin (the difference between the retail price and the wholesale price) is insufficient at the retail stage. The margin between the retail and the wholesale price has not even been large enough to cover TeliaSonera’s own costs at the retail stage.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON SWEDISH ITEMS,
PLEASE CONTACT: Alexander Gotts

“Lietuvos telekomas” kaltinamas diskriminacija DSL rinkoje

 

Didžiausias interneto paslaugų tiekėjas “Lietuvos telekomas” kaltinamas kitų DSL interneto paslaugų teikėjų diskriminavimu. Tokius kaltinimus pažėrė bendrovės “Baltnetos komunikacijos” ir “Microlink Lietuva” bei kitąmet į DSL rinką ketinanti įžengti bendrovė “Tele2“. Trečiadienį šios trys bendrovės kreipėsi į Ryšių reguliavimo tarnybą (RRT), prašydamos, kad ši atliktų interneto prieigos teikimo DSL technologija rinkos tyrimą ir pradėtų reguliuoti šią rinką.

 

Vėliausiai iki ketvirtadienio bendrovės žada kreiptis ir į Konkurencijos tarybą, ragindamos apriboti dominuojančio DSL paslaugų tiekėjo “Lietuvos telekomo” piktnaudžiavimą ir sudaryti sąlygas sąžiningai konkurencijai. Neoficialiais duomenimis, kreipiantis į Konkurencijos tarybą, prie šių trijų bendrovių prisijungs dar viena.  

 

“Rinkoje susidarė paradoksali situacija – didmeniniai vartotojai, tai yra mūsų bendrovės, DSL paslaugas iš “Lietuvos telekomo” perka brangiau, negu ši bendrovė jas siūlo mažmeniniams vartotojams”, – trečiadienį spaudos konferencijoje sakė “Baltnetos komunikacijų” plėtros direktorius Mindaugas Pranskevičius.

 

Bendrovės reikalauja “Lietuvos telekomo” teikti joms visas didmenines paslaugas ir visų mažmeninių paslaugų analogus. Taip pat reikalauja užtikrinti, kad didmeninės DSL ryšio kainos neviršytų mažmeninių. Dar bendrovės reikalauja panaikinti diskriminuojančius mokesčius ir užtikrinti vienodus kainodaros principus tiek mažmeniniams, tiek didmeniniams vartotojams.

 

“Baltnetos komunikacijos” ir “Microlink Lietuva” didmenines DSL paslaugų teikimo sutartis su “Lietuvos telekomu” pasirašė 2002 metų spalį.

 

“Telekomas kainas į palankią pusę mažmeniniams vartotojams per šį laikotarpį keitė net tris kartus. Tuo tarpu sutartis su mumis pasirašyta vieną kartą ir kainodara nebuvo peržiūrėta”, – kalbėjo M. Pranskevičius.

 

Pasak “Tele2″ generalinio direktoriaus Petro Masiulio, dėl esamos situacijos labiausiai nukenčia vartotojai, nes yra priversti mokėti kainą, kurią nustato “Lietuvos telekomas”, o ne rinka. Jo teigimu, šiuo metu didmeninė DSL paslaugos kaina yra maždaug 20 proc. didesnė už mažmeninę.

 

“Prašome RRT ištirti “Lietuvos telekomo” šios paslaugos teikimo kaštus ir pagal juos nustatyti kainas. Jeigu RRT nustatys, kad kainos gali būti 50 proc. mažesnės negu yra dabar, mes esame pasiruošę tokias kainas vartotojams ir pasiūlyti”, – tvirtino P. Masiulis.

 

“Tele2″ į DSL paslaugų rinką ketina įžengti kitąmet. Pasak P. Masiulio, “Lietuvos telekomas” akivaizdžiai stengiasi išstumti iš DSL rinkos esamus dalyvius ir užkirsti kelią naujų dalyvių atėjimui į rinką.

 

“Baltnetos komunikacijos” ir “Microlink Lietuva” didmenines DSL paslaugų teikimo sutartis su “Lietuvos telekomu” pasirašė 2002 metų spalį.

 

“Telekomas kainas į palankią pusę mažmeniniams vartotojams per šį laikotarpį keitė net tris kartus. Tuo tarpu sutartis su mumis pasirašyta vieną kartą ir rinkodara nebuvo peržiūrėta”, – kalbėjo M. Pranskevičius.

 

RRT jau anksčiau pripažino “Lietuvos telekomą” turint didelės įtakos fiksuoto telefono ryšio tinklų ir paslaugų rinkoje.

 

“Laikas RRT pripažinti, kad ši bendrovė dominuoja DSL prieigos paslaugų rinkoje ir taikyti jai visus T įstatymuose numatytus įpareigojimus”, – sakė “Microlink Lietuva” tinklo departamento direktorius Saulius Balčiūnas.

 

“Kai “Lietuvos telekomas” duos normalias interneto prieigas, mes būsime konkurentai, tačiau leiskite mums dirbti”, – sakė P. Masiulis.

 

Lapkričio pabaigoje “Lietuvos telekomas” turėjo 42,6 tūkst. “DSL tako” paslaugų vartotojų – beveik trigubai daugiau nei prieš metus (16,5 tūkst.) ir dominavo šioje rinkoje.

www.delfi.lt