The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) filed a lawsuit against three mobile operators (Mobinil, Vodafone, Etisalat) for their agreement on a mobile phone service price-increase that would allegedly burden customers with over LE500,000 annually.
In October, the ECA received a report accusing the three operators of imposing a stamp duty on prepaid subscribers beginning March 2012 and urging the authority to investigate the issue.
Mona al-Gorf, ECA chairperson, said mobile operators were found to have made agreements with fellow competitors that would impact the market, like increasing, decreasing or fixing prices. Such agreements, she said, are criminalized under market competition law.
Applying the stamp duty does not represent a violation of the law, according to Gorf, but “the competitors' agreement to impose a stamp duty on others and burdening subscribers with it to increase the price (after they were used to bear as a marketing method), as well as their agreement to divide the price in the same way, which restricts marketing operations, represent clear violations against the law.”
She explained that the law seeks market mechanisms that rely on independent decision-making for every company targeting competition that benefits the economy and consumer.
“While the operators used to bear the stamp duty, they agreed in March 2012 to impose the duty at the same time without notifying the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), which approved it later in contrast to traditions within the sector,” she added.
ECA had earlier referred Mobinil and Etisalat to prosecution of financial and commercial affairs in February for refraining from cooperation and not providing required documents and information.
The authority then decided the three operators had a criminalized agreement in accordance with the sixth article of the law and referred the issue to prosecution.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm.