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Court case concerning the provision of information to consumers - Mediafax

20-02-2003

At present, civil proceedings are being conducted against OPTA in the Court of The Hague. This case has been brought by KPN, because it is of the opinion that the information which OPTA provides to consumers is misleading. This information was designed to make it clear that it has been possible to use carrier preselection (CPS) to route local calls since 1 August last year. This marked the elimination of a major obstacle to the promotion of competition. As part of this lawsuit, KPN is also seeking to have OPTA prohibited from providing information to consumers in the future.

OPTA has published more information on its website, for instance, about new choices which are available to consumers and the charges levied by the various providers who have collaborated for this purpose. OPTA is of the opinion that this website has since come to address the need to draw the attention of consumers to the possibility of choosing from multiple providers to make local calls. After approximately six months had elapsed, OPTA found it opportune to cease publishing information about these charges.

According to Hans Bakker, OPTA’s director: Apparently, we have kicked KPN’s Achilles heel, because it is of the opinion that the dissemination of public information is not part of our duties. We feel that a government body does not require an explicit legally stipulated basis to provide the public with information. Consumers are entitled to it in order to be able to make a proper choice.

OPTA has had research conducted into transparency in the telecommunications market. This research reveals that in practice information about tariffs, quality and conditions is generally inadequate and insufficiently capable of comparison.

CPS was introduced into the Netherlands on 1 January 2000. As of that time, it has been possible for consumers to choose a CPS provider to carry their national, international or both types of calls. In actual fact, it meant that at the time only calls to those numbers beginning with nil could be carried by a CPS provider. However, in 2001 the CPS providers indicated that they also wanted to carry calls via CPS to numbers not beginning with nil, although this was subject to the resolution of the so-called ‘price squeeze’ involved in such calls. A price squeeze exists where a KPN competitor is squeezed between the tariff which KPN charges it for the use of its network and the end-user charges for which KPN bills its own customers. In recent years OPTA has adopted various measures to resolve this price squeeze.

At present civil proceedings are being conducted against OPTA in the District Court of The Hague. This case has been brought by KPN because it is of the opinion that the information which OPTA provides to consumers is misleading. This information was designed to make it clear that it has been possible to use carrier preselection (CPS) to route local calls since 1 August last year.