OTE wins first court battle against telecom watchdog

An Athens appeals court accepted the request by OTE telecom for a temporary suspension of the execution of the 20.5-million-euro fine from the National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), delaying it at least until September. OTE seems to be gaining the edge in its confrontation with the telecommunications watchdog on the «very heavy» fine EETT had imposed on it last summer. EETT had asked for a postponement of the court’s decision in order to hire an expert, its solicitors claimed. In this case, EETT was advised by British company Ovum, while OTE had hired PricewaterhouseCoopers. OTE celebrated the first battle won over EETT, stating that EETT decisions can be defeated in the court of law as they have technical and economic faults. The decision for the 20.5-million-euro fine was accompanied by five other decisions by EETT imposing fines of another 7 million euros for breaking telecom legislation. The main fine concerns the breaking of competition regulations, as EETT found OTE guilty of «compressing profit margins» in the broadband Internet connections market. EETT officials said that the commission had not tried to avoid the court ruling but had been obliged to call for a postponement to the case due to workload. They added that on the same day as the ruling another 15 cases between OTE and alternative telecoms providers had been set for court hearings. Apart from the six decisions on fines to OTE, EETT announced on July 26 another six decisions on telecoms legislation violations by alternative providers. Therefore, it was impossible for EETT’s lawyers to be present at all 16 hearings. Although the case has not been closed yet, yesterday’s development shows that OTE was better prepared for this case. On the other hand, it is certain that regardless which way it will ends, the case will eventually be resolved by the Council of the State, the country’s highest administrative court.