Mobile phone company Sure has been fined £2,962,632 for breaking competition law in Guernsey, whilst Jersey Telecom was fined £439,608.
An investigation by the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority (GCRA) in December 2021 found that Sure and JT had worked together to develop a plan that would mutually benefit them. The companies attempted to illegally control the provision of mobile networks in Guernsey, including the future introduction of 5G. Sure and JT had also shared information on their commercial strategy for introducing next generation mobile networks with each other.
Guernsey competition law requires competitors to "compete not collude".
The Authority had also found Sure had taken active and intentional steps to avoid the collusion coming to light, staff had also provided 'false answers' when interviewed.
Jersey Telecom was fined £439,608 for colluding with Sure.
In terms of mitigating factors, the Authority found the steps taken by JT to stop it happening again, as well as the speed at which they were adopted meant GCRA reduced their fine by 10%.In a statement the Authority says: "Competitors are not allowed to exchange information with each other on their commercial strategy, which includes the matters on which JT and Sure repeatedly exchanged information - the speed at which they intended to introduce 5G and the removal by JT of its mobile network from Guernsey. This behaviour damages competition in Guernsey and, ultimately, Guernsey consumers."The phone company Sure says it intends to appeal the fine.
Alistair Beak, CEO of the Sure Group said the investigation was flawed: "We are steadfast in our belief that we have done nothing wrong; at all times Sure has acted in accordance with the spirit and letter of the law.“We have now faced three different versions of the GCRA's case. Twice the GCRA has had to rewrite its case when it realised that Sure was right and that their allegations were completely baseless.
"Yet again, with this latest penalty process, we find ourselves facing a regulator which seems determined to find against us, in the face of clear and compelling evidence that there has been no wrongdoing."
Mr Beak says the multi-million pound fine "sends a potentially chilling message on conduction business and attracting investment into Guernsey."
Sure is appealing the penalty through the Royal Court.