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GCRA says two telcos acted illegally - but Sure is "astonished" by findings

GCRA says two telcos acted illegally - but Sure is

Tuesday 21 December 2021

GCRA says two telcos acted illegally - but Sure is "astonished" by findings

Tuesday 21 December 2021


Telecoms provider Sure immediately said it was “very confident” of winning an appeal in the Royal Court after the competition regulator announced that Sure and its rival JT “broke competition law by attempting to illegally control the provision of mobile networks in Guernsey, including the future introduction of 5G”.

Sure’s Chief Executive, Alistair Beak, said the ruling was “unfair and deeply flawed” and accused the regulator of an approach which “lacked principle, fairness and reason”.

The Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority (GCRA) began its investigation more than two years ago. It published its findings yesterday and is now considering whether to impose a fine on the companies.

“While businesses like Sure and JT will have valid reasons for communicating and exchanging information, the nature and purpose of the exchanges uncovered by the Competition Authority were found to go well beyond legitimate purposes,” said the GCRA.

“The GCRA’s investigation initially focused on a suspected agreement in relation to 5G but as further evidence was uncovered it was expanded to include all mobile networks operated by Sure and JT.

“The GCRA’s investigation found that over a period of approximately a year, through repeated contacts and exchanges of information between them, JT and Sure privately developed a joint plan without disclosing it to their regulator or the States that would mutually benefit each in their home markets.

“They also exchanged information on their commercial strategy for introducing next generation mobile networks at a slower pace than that sought by the States of Guernsey and on a common line to take that they were working to achieve the objective of introducing that technology to Guernsey in line with, or ahead of, the UK while privately agreeing not to do so.

“This behaviour risked damaging fair competition in Guernsey and, ultimately, Guernsey consumers’ interests.”

5g_states.jpg

Pictured: The Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority says that Sure and JT deceived the States over the pace at which they were working to introduce next generation mobile networks in Guernsey.

The GCRA said that Airtel, the second-largest mobile provider in Guernsey, was not part of the arrangements.

Sure said the GCRA was “determined to justify its lengthy and expensive investigation by portraying Sure as having acted wrongfully in some way, shape or form and to do so regardless of the evidence provided to it”.

“At all times Sure has acted in accordance with the spirit and letter of the law,” said Mr Beak.

“We are very confident that this will be confirmed in due course following the appeal which will now be filed against this decision.

“Earlier this year we submitted a thorough and detailed rebuttal to the GCRA’s draft decision, which we supplemented with a presentation to the GCRA in September. These representations clearly demonstrated that Sure had not contravened competition law when it engaged in the discussions with JT to explore the idea of a single 5G mobile network for Guernsey.

“This was done in response to what was then the latest iteration of the GCRA's allegations. We are disturbed to see that, yet again, there is now another iteration of the allegations and one which was not put to us before.

Alistair_Beak_PREF.jpg

Pictured: Alistair Beak, Chief Executive of Sure, says the company is "astonished" by the competition authority's findings that Sure and JT acted illegally in discussions about Guernsey's mobile network. 

“The fact is that discussions with JT only took place after Sure was instructed in clear and unequivocal terms by the regulator and Government to have those discussions.

“We therefore find it astonishing that the GCRA should seek to criticise Sure. Their approach to this matter throughout has lacked principle, fairness and reason.

“This case began more than two years ago. From the outset, we have cooperated fully, at enormous cost in money and time. Our focus is on connecting our island communities for a better future. If left unchallenged, the GCRA's approach will be deeply damaging to the Guernsey business community.”

It is understood that JT also refutes the GCRA’s findings and considering its next steps.

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