Consumer watchdog worried big telcos may squeeze out small players

The Dutch consumers and markets authority ACM is to keep a close eye on the two biggest players in the Dutch telecoms market to make sure smaller firms are not squeezed out.

The ACM’s telecoms chief Johan Keetelaar said in an interview with the AD that the consumer watchdog will go as far as it can to monitor the positions of KPN and Vodafone/Ziggo, given the current constraints of EU law.

In particular, the ACM is worried about the way the big two use ‘free’ services to lock in consumers. Ziggo, for example, offers its subscribers free foreign football matches while KPN has begun developing its own tv drama productions.

‘Can T-Mobile and Tele2 compete with this and stand their ground?,’ Keetelaar said.

The ACM wants Ziggo to remove the free football package from its basic subscription, but this is not possible under EU law, the AD said.

‘If we receive indications that Vodafone/Ziggo and KPN are distorting competition, it is legally very hard to prove. And the European Commission is able to veto our decisions,’ Keetelaar said.

Ideally, Keetelaar said, telecoms would offer a simple basic package of programming and extra services such as football and Formula 1 racing.

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