Albania’s two mobile phone operators fined

TIRANA (AP) – Albania’s two cellular telephone operators, Albanian Mobile Communication and Vodafone Albania, were fined a total of -3.76 million for overcharging consumers, authorities said yesterday. The country’s Competition Authority fined Albanian Mobile Communications, or AMC, 211.5 million leks (-1.76 million, $2.58 million) and Vodafone Albania 242.6 million leks (-2 million, $2.94 million) for violating antitrust laws and «abusing their dominant position (and) setting unfair prices in the mobile phone market,» a statement said. The companies had set prices far above the European Union and regional average during 2004-05, it said. Officials at AMC and Vodafone said they needed to review the commission’s ruling before responding. AMC was opened in 1996 as a state-run venture before 85 percent of its shares were sold to the Greek-Norwegian company CosmoteTelenor in 2000, while Vodafone Albania was launched in August 2001. Together they have more than 2 million subscribers. After acquiring the former state-owned fixed-line Albtelecom earlier this year, the Turkish Calik Enerji telekomunikasyon a.s., a consortium of Calik Enerji and Turk Telekom, will launch a third operator in spring 2008.