Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ) has been fined NIS 30 million by the Israel Competition Authority for abusing its monopolistic control of the communications infrastructure. The passive infrastructure involved in the ruling is the underground pipes and pits used for communications cables. In its two breaches of the law, Bezeq created barriers to competitors seeking to deploy a landline communications network using its passive infrastructure. The methods employed by Bezeq were liable to have a negative impact on the development of competition in the provision of communications services: Internet, television, and landline telephony.
The violations concerned Bezeq's behavior in the context of the wholesale market reform under the company's previous management and ownership. The Competition Authority holds that Bezeq harmed its competitors by creating difficulties that prevented them from deploying fiber-optics in the company's communications channels. This involves access to Bezeq's communications pits connecting buildings. Bezeq did not allow its competitors to use these pits.
Bezeq also prevented competing companies from deploying fiber-optics continuously in its communications channels, thereby forcing them to connect the fibers piece by piece. These difficulties affected Partner and Cellcom's ability to lay fiber-optics quickly and effectively, thereby harming competition and the public.
The hearing took place over a long period. The Competition Authority heard Bezeq, and asserted that the company had not disclosed full information about its actions. In addition to the original fine imposed on Bezeq, the Competition Authority therefore fined the company an additional NIS 8 million. The Competition Authority also imposed an NIS 8 million fine on former Bezeq CEO Stella Handler, during whose term as CEO the events in question took place with her complete awareness. The NIS 8 million fine was imposed after she had already left the company.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 4, 2019
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