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Vodafone slings sueball at Dutch telco alleging anti-competitive conduct

Operator's Dutch wing wants €115m from a perplexed KPN

Vodafone has initiated legal proceedings against Netherlands-based telco KPN, with the claim that the latter's business practices have affected competition and consumer choice in the country.

The Dutch incumbent has been accused by the mobile giant of failing to deliver the technology needed for Voda to debut its rival TV, fixed-line broadband and telephone service in the Netherlands.

Vodafone, which has lodged its claim with the court of justice in The Hague, said KPN's alleged antitrust behaviour delayed the company from delivering its service to consumers for three years.

It said in a canned statement:

The former state telecoms monopoly KPN owns and operates the Netherlands’ only nationwide telephone network – using copper lines to connect households and businesses across the country – as well as the country’s largest fibre optic network.

Other operators without the benefits of this nationwide fixed-line infrastructure must rely on KPN’s network in order to compete.

The delays resulted in Vodafone Netherlands being unable to compete effectively with KPN (and cable providers) in the Dutch telecoms market until 2014.

Voda claimed that KPN launched a competing service during that "crucial" period, when more than 100,000 Dutch netizens shifted over to the "all-in-one" offer.

The operator – which has complained about other incumbent telcos in Europe, including a recent formal spat with Ireland's Eir – said it was seeking €115m in damages from KPN for Vodafone Netherlands.

Vodafone's Netherlands' chief, Rob Shuter, said: "KPN has repeatedly failed to deliver on its commitments and has instead seriously abused its dominant position. This is bad for consumers, bad for the development of the Dutch telecoms markets and bad for competition."

The Register sought comment from KPN on this story. A spokesbeing at the company told us: "We do not recognise the picture outlined by Vodafone." ®

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