Orange Romania handed 14 million-euro fine by competition council

The Romanian Competition Council has sanctioned Orange Romania with a fine of 64.9 million lei (around 14 million euros) for abusing its dominant market position during the period 2011-2015. It is the largest fine the council has ever handed to a telecommunications company.

The council found that Orange limited the access of Simplus Invest, an integrator, to its mobile network by blocking its business transmission of commercial messages to or by Orange customers.

Simplus Invest is a company that mediates the transmission of commercial messages through short numbers between certain beneficiary companies and mobile customers. The council ruled that access to Orange’s network is indispensable for integrators such as Simplus that need to market their own products, as Orange has the largest number of customers on the mobile market.

“Large companies with a dominant market position must behave in a non-discriminatory way towards their partners,” said Bogdan Chirițoiu, the president of the competition council.

From 2012-13, Simplus was a Romanian market leader in the field of commercial messages via short numbers. The council ruled that Orange’s actions significantly diminished the ability of the company to compete. Simplus’ turnover decreased roughly five-fold in the 2012-2015 period.

Orange Romania responded to the fine by claiming that it was protecting its customers.

“Orange Romania has been sanctioned for a justified and legitimate response designed to prevent fraudulent commercial activities. Preventing such fraudulent activities is recommended at both a local and European level,” said the company in an official statement.