At the Ministry of communications brought the matter of restriction of competition

The case against the Ministry

The Federal Antimonopoly service (FAS) initiated a case against the Ministry of communications, says the message of the Supervisory authority. In late February, the FAS issued a warning to the Ministry and demanded a change in the draft decision of the State Commission for radio frequencies (SCRF), which, according to the service, limits competition in the telecommunication market. However, the Ministry of communications this document has not changed, said the head of Department for regulation of communications and information technology services Elena zaeva.

Agencies dispute centred on the introduction of the principle, thanks to which Russia could be new 4G mobile operators. This is the principle of technological neutrality in the frequency band 2300-2400 MHz — it would allow to develop an LTE network (4G). In other radio frequency bands, e.g. 900 and 1800 MHz, the principle of technological neutrality already entered and it applies to all operators, without exception, experts say FAS.

An application to the Federal Antimonopoly service sent the company “Inlain”, reported the Supervisory authority. It said that the Ministry of communications unduly preclude consideration of the issue of implementing technology neutrality in the radio frequency bands 2300-2400 MHz SCRF. If the FAS will come to the conclusion that the Ministry of communications has indeed violated the law and limited competition, it will issue an order to eliminate violations, said zaeva. The service has mechanisms for the enforcement of such decisions, she says.

Sanctions for the restriction of competition authorities provides for a Code of administrative offences: on officials can impose a fine up to 50 thousand rubles or disqualify them for a maximum of three years.

The Ministry of communications will be able to appeal the injunction in court, in this case it is not obliged to comply with the requirements of the FAS to court confirmation of the correctness of the monopolists, said the adviser of the law Bureau “Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev and partners” Evgeny Bolshakov. If the Ministry and after the court decision does not fulfill the requirements, officials are waiting for the liability up to the ban to hold public office, says Bolshakov. Extreme measure — the enforcement through the courts, but in practice this is usually not to get it, said the lawyer. Thus, according to him, most of the decisions of the FAS on this article is still being appealed in court and executed only after confirmation. The investigation of the FAS and the appeal in total may stretch for about a year and a half, says Bolshakov.

This is not the first such case brought by the FAS against the Ministry of communications. In 2011, the Ministry has already violated the law “On protection of competition”, and claim the FAS were also related to the fact that the Ministry of communications does not allow small operators to develop LTE-networks (then in the band 790-862 MHz). Then the antitrust agencies of the Ministry issued an order to eliminate violations. The FAS often prosecute authorities, says Bolshakov. According to the statistics of the Antimonopoly body, in 2015, they held 39% of all cases of FAS (3.5 thousand from 9 thousand), but separate data on Federal authorities the Department does not publish.

The representative of the Ministry of communications has not yet responded to questions .

Problem range

In the draft decision, where the FAS found indications of limitation of competition, said that to develop LTE network at this frequency band “without further action of the SCR” can only use her mobile but no fixed connection. In this case, the operators of fixed wireless access (e.g. Wi-Fi) is planned to forbid to develop LTE on this band. FAS is required to change this document so that the fixed wireless operators had the opportunity to use its frequencies for LTE.

New 4G operator in the Moscow region wanted to become the company “Inlain” is the operator of fixed access, which operates in the range of 2300-2400 MHz. She lobbied for the introduction of the principle of technological neutrality by contacting the scrd: to replace obsolete equipment she needed was an appropriate decision of that body. The Commission also felt that the need to adopt a generalized solution for the market, not to disassemble a special case, explained a source close to the company “Inlain” and familiar with the work of the SCR.

The decision on technology neutrality is still not accepted, although the question was occasionally put on the agenda of the meetings of the SCR since 2012, is spoken in the message of FAS. The first draft decision of the SCRF on the introduction of this principle, as written , appeared in 2014. Then “Inlain” asked “Support of Russia”, which wrote about the issue of Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. He in may 2015, has instructed the Minister of communications Nikolay Nikiforov “ensure consideration” of this issue at the next meeting of the SCR, but it did not help to speed up the decision-making process. At the last Commission meeting on February 29, the issue was also discussed, but the examination was postponed again, wrote “Vedomosti”.

Internet provider “Inlain” 80% is owned by private individuals and 20% of the company “REF+” according to base “SPARK-Interfax”. The company’s revenue in 2014 amounted to 9.2 million rubles, profit — 160 thousand rbl., the results of 2015 are unknown. The provider operates in four districts of Moscow, said on its website.

With the same frequency band 2300-2400 MHz had problems and another company — “fundamentals of Telecom”, a subsidiary of “Voentelekoma” serving the Ministry of defense. In 2011 the company almost completely and throughout the country have received this range for 4G development. Later, three other companies — “East”, “Proinvest” and “Resource” — has filed lawsuits with the intent to challenge the allocation of frequencies “to the Basis a Telecom”. In 2014, the Moscow Arbitration court cancelled the relevant decision of the SCR, and in June 2015 the company has suspended work on its LTE network.