Sure is butting heads with the Guernsey Competition & Regulatory Authority in a strong response to the watchdog's claims that Sure and JT acted in a clandestine fashion designed to prevent competition.
An investigation by the island's competition regulator concluded, in its provisional findings, that the two telcos agreed that JT would pull out of operating 4G and future 5G mobile networks in Guernsey, if Sure agreed to do the same in Jersey.
In a statement, the GCRA - which formed recently following the disbandment of CICRA - claimed that Sure and JT had colluded by sharing commercial information and making secret agreements between the two parties.
"This agreement to trade mobile network infrastructure would have given each of JT and Sure a far stronger position as mobile network providers in their home island achieved not by fair and open competition but through a secret anti-competitive arrangement," the regulator asserted.
Both companies have contested those comments, with Sure's senior management saying that the GCRA's statement is "wholly at odds with the regulator's own request that the telecoms operators should enter into discussions." Acting Group Chief Executive Officer Alastair Beak insists the company has taken a "consistent, proactive and open-handed approach" with the regulator in connection with that request.
“To suggest, as the GCRA has done, that Sure conducted a secret set of discussions with JT and had agreed to withdraw from the Jersey market, borders on the nonsensical; it makes no commercial sense," he said.
"We would never enter into such an arrangement and are astonished at the regulator's provisional finding. We are also extremely disappointed at the regulator's approach to this matter. Regrettably, despite the token reference to the provisional nature of the regulator's findings, we have limited faith that we will be given a fair hearing through this process.
“We are committed to the islands we operate in and the customers we serve and therefore look forward to being able to clear our name, in court if need be.”
Pictured: The information note published on the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority's website.
A JT spokesperson stated the company's belief that the GCRA has reached "incorrect" interim conclusions. “We believe that our pro-competitive stance speaks for itself, and that the GCRA has reached the incorrect interim conclusions in this important matter.
"We will continue to co-operate fully with their investigation, ahead of their decision being finalised. For the record, JT has repeatedly demonstrated its appetite to compete legally, ethically and fairly across the Channel Islands, and that’s exactly what we will continue to do."
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