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Watchdog accuses JT and Sure of 'secret' anti-competition deal

Watchdog accuses JT and Sure of 'secret' anti-competition deal

Thursday 22 April 2021

Watchdog accuses JT and Sure of 'secret' anti-competition deal


Sure and JT struck a 'secret' deal over the operation of 4G and 5G mobile networks, according to an investigation by the Guernsey's competition watchdog being hotly disputed by both companies.

The Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority (GCRA) claimed JT agreed to pull out of operating 4G and future 5G mobile networks in Guernsey in return for Sure doing the same in Jersey.

This agreement, the regulator argued, "had the object of preventing competition within Guernsey."

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, the GCRA said the two companies had colluded "through a coordinated exchange of information between JT and Sure over more than a year".

"Sure and JT colluded by sharing commercial information and agreeing secretly that JT would pull out of operating existing 4G and future 5G mobile networks in Guernsey, in return for Sure doing the same in Jersey," the provisional judgment states. 

"This agreement to trade mobile network infrastructure would have given each of JT and Sure a far stronger position as mobile network providers in their home island achieved not by fair and open competition but through a secret anti-competitive arrangement."

Alistair Beak, Acting Group Chief Executive Officer of Sure, revealed the operator's intention to "defend ourselves rigorously" following the GCRA's assertions. 

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Pictured: The information note published on the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority's website. 

Mr Beak added that Sure was unhappy with how the investigation had been handled, saying it had been conducted in a "manifestly unfair" way. 

“We have received this morning the draft decision from the GCRA, which we will be considering in detail," he said. "As a responsible operator we strongly refute the allegations of anti-competitive behaviour made by the GCRA and will be defending ourselves rigorously.

“We must also express our concerns regarding the way in which the GCRA has conducted this investigation, which we believe has been manifestly unfair. We are committed to ensuring that the Guernsey telecoms market is fair and open and that we operate in the best interests of consumers.”

A JT spokesperson stated the company's belief that the GCRA has reached "incorrect" interim conclusions. 

"We are proud that the telecoms market in Guernsey is one of the island’s most competitive, providing benefit to the whole community," said the spokesperson. 

“We believe that our pro-competitive stance speaks for itself, and that the GCRA has reached the incorrect interim conclusions in this important matter. We will continue to co-operate fully with their investigation, ahead of their decision being finalised.

“For the record, JT has repeatedly demonstrated its appetite to compete legally, ethically and fairly across the Channel Islands, and that’s exactly what we will continue to do."

It comes weeks after Jersey's competition watchdog dropped an investigation into the two companies over the construction and operation of 5G networks, with JT and Sure accepting they were wrong to discuss a 5G network-sharing deal.

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