The European Commission (EC) has postponed until next week its decision to impose an antitrust fine on Telecom Eireann, the first decision of its type in the sector, sources said.
The postponement from tomorrow's Commission meeting is for technical reasons rather than at the request of any particular commissioner, they said.
"The substance of the case is that Telecom Eireann refused to supply ESAT Telecom with call termination services at prices which allowed it to compete. It gave prices to ESAT which were final customer prices and not even those with discounts given to a large customer," continued the source.
"Telecom Eireann did this for several years," he said, declining to comment on a newspaper report the fine will be in the I#10 million to I#15 million range.
"It is the only case we have pursued and will be the first fine in the telecom sector," he said.
ESAT is Telecom Eireann's largest competitor, competing on both fixed and mobile services.
The Commission's investigation looked at ESAT's closed user group private network voice offering, set up in 1993, which required Telecom Eireann to terminate calls on its network.
The Commission investigated Deutsche Telekom in 1996 for cutting its business tariffs so that rivals found it difficult to make a margin.
"That was a squeezing case. Here it is directly excluding competitors. Here they have not just squeezed, they have slammed the door in their face," he said.
In the Deutsche Telekom case, complaints led to a suspension of the tariffs and an eventual settlement on lower fees.
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