The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) said in a press statement issued today (8 August 2012) that it is gratified that the Competition Tribunal has found Telkom guilty of anti-competitive behaviour.
According to ISPA co-chair, Marc Furman, the finding vindicates its decade-long battle aimed at allowing greater competition into the South African telecommunications market.
“Thanks to the Competition Commission’s commitment to pursuing this matter, what has been a long and arduous process that ISPA and other complainants embarked on way back in 2002 is now, hopefully, at an end.”
ISPA is currently studying the judgment in detail and the outcome of this scrutiny will determine what further action, if any, might be necessary. It is also open to Telkom to take the matter on appeal, while some of those who were affected by Telkom’s behaviour may consider using this decision as the basis upon which to sue Telkom for damages.
“ISPA extended its appreciation to all the other parties to the original complaint. Those ISPA and SAVA members who incurred the considerable time and expense of testifying against Telkom come in for special mention,” Furman said.
The Tribunal specifically found Telkom guilty of refusing to supply facilities to ISPA members and of trying to induce it’s customers not to deal with Telkom’s competitors. Telkom’s behaviour was described as “bullying”.
ISPA said that, for it, the important thing is the precedent that has been set: the competition authorities have conclusively found that Telkom did behave unlawfully over a long period of time, abusing its statutory monopoly.
“While the matter relates to the period 1999–2004 the decision is very much relevant to today’s market which remains characterised by vertical integration and anti-competitive pricing and other practices. The decision will hopefully have an indirectly positive impact on the consumer by drawing a clear line around conduct which violates South Africa’s Competition Act,” added Furman.
“Hopefully, this conveys an unambiguous message not just to Telkom but to the entire telecoms industry that such practices are unlawful and those undertaking them will be held to account,” concluded Furman.