British mobile phone giant Vodafone said Thursday it is suing rival KPN for EUR 115 million ($126 million or roughly Rs. 840 crores), accusing its Dutch competitor of seeking to lock it out of the local market.
“KPN delayed by three years the nationwide introduction of Vodafone’s competing TV, fixed-line broadband and fixed-line telephone proposition, Vodafone Thuis, by failing repeatedly to meet its commitments to deliver the technology needed,” Vodafone said in a statement.
Such practices amounted to “anti-competitive behaviour in the Dutch convergent communications market to the detriment of competition and consumer choice.”
The complaint has been lodged with a court in The Hague, and Dutch media said a court summons should be received by KPN later Thursday.
According to Vodafone, the EUR 115 million amounts to compensation and interest for revenue lost between 2011 to 2014 as it sought to launch its own “all-in-one” package for Dutch customers.
KPN owns and operates the Netherlands’ only nationwide telephone network, using copper lines, in the country of 17 million people, as well as the largest fibre-optic network, Vodafone said.
“Other operators without the benefits of this nationwide fixed-line infrastructure must rely on KPN’s network in order to compete,” Vodafone said.
It alleged the delays meant it could not compete effectively on the Dutch market until 2014.
Dutch media reported that despite a contract signed in 2011, KPN had repeatedly delayed Vodafone’s service “at least six times” each time for several months.
Vodafone Netherlands therefore missed out at a key moment when some 100,000 Dutch clients a quarter were signing up to “all-in-one” packages combining phone, Internet and television deals, the British firm said.
This “qualifies as abuse of a dominant market position,” added Vodafone, recalling it has launched similar legal moves in other European countries notably the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
KPN spokesman Stijn Wisselink told AFP however that “KPN does not recognise the situation described by Vodafone.”
The British player – the world’s second largest operator – has only conquered a small part of the Dutch market with some 73,000 customers, according to the financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad.
Ziggo-UPC and KPN dominate the high-speed Internet broadband market in the Netherlands, with 44 percent and 40 percent of the market respectively, with the rest shared between their rivals, according to the Dutch bank ABN Amro.