Vodafone boss accuses BT and Deutsche of reviving monopoliesComments Off on Vodafone boss accuses BT and Deutsche of reviving monopolies
The boss of Vodafone launched a ferocious attack on BT and Deutsche Telekom today, accusing them of trying to recreate the monopolies they held 30 years ago across Europe.
“This is a clear attempt by Deutsche Telekom and BT to undo 30 years of progress in telecoms in Europe and return to their monopoly status,” said Vittorio Colao two weeks after the £12.5 billion takeover of EE, the mobile giant jointly owned by Deustche and Orange, by BT was provisionally cleared by competition authorities.
“The re-monopolisation risk in Europe is real and big,” he added.
“Deutsche Telekom and BT are both clearly pushing through Europe to use the copper networks which they own to deliver broadband,” Colao said. “We are the fourth-largest provider of broadband in Europe but we do not get the access or the service we need. In the UK, Openreach delivers just half of what we request on time — that’s really bad.”
Colao added that even the latest technologies to deliver ultra-fast fixed-line broadband required access to either or both the incumbent telcos’ ducts or copper networks in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.
He called on European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to investigate the power of the former state-owned telcos because, he claimed: “Your main supplier is actually a competitor and does not play ball.”
In the UK, Colao still believes Openreach should be separated from BT or, if not, should have much stricter controls over price and service delivery particularly as Deutsche Telekom will become a 12% shareholder in BT once the EE deal goes through.
“We are seeing the recreation of one monopoly with a large shareholding in it by another country’s monopoly,” he said. “Mrs Vestager has shown herself not to be afraid in the past and should look at this situation.”
Vodafone today reported better-than-expected first-half figures. It even nudged up its forecast for full-year earnings to a range of £11.7 billion to £12 billion. Vodafone shares jumped 4%, or 8.55p, to 233p.
That is still less than the 258p peak they hit in the summer before talks on a deal with John Malone’s Liberty came to nothing. Colao said: “The discussions with Liberty did not lead to a deal so we continue with Plan A.”
He also revealed that Vodafone plans to float its Indian business on the stock market sometime next year.