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Maroc Telecom to appeal US$340m fine

Morocco , 17 Feb 2020

Maroc Telecom to appeal US$340m fine

Moroccan telecommunications operator Maroc Telecom is looking to appeal a fine of 3.3-billion dirhams (approximately US$340-million) it received from the country's National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ANRT).

ANRT said the fine is a punitive measure against the operator's anti-competitive practices, based on analysis of the findings of a report in 2017.

The regulator stated: "After an in-depth examination of the various elements of the investigation report, which commenced in May 2017, the ANRT Management Committee concluded that Maroc Telecom's actions had prevented and delayed its competitors from accessing LLU and the fixed broadband market since 2013."

According to the regulator Maroc Telecom has contravened regulations governing local loop unbundling.

In 2018, Inwi, a subsidiary of Zain, is understood to have filed a suit against Marco Telecom accusing the telco of breaching competition rules.

In the suit Inwi claims that since 2013, Maroc Telecom had hindered its rivals' access to local loop unbundling (LLU) and fixed broadband. LLU refers to the actual cable through which telecom subscribers will receive broadband and telephone calls.

While Maroc Telecom controls the country's telecommunications infrastructure, the regulator required that it provide competitors with access.

According to ANRT's guidelines for LLU, published in 2014, Maroc Telecom was obligated to host rivals' equipment in its existing cabinets, as well as build out multi-operator cabinets in future deployments. The market leader was also required to provide wholesale tariffs for other operators using a virtual unbundled local access (VULA) model.

Inwi is seeking compensation of 5 billion dirhams and judgement by the Commercial Court of Rabat has been set aside for 24 February 2020.

Maroc Telecom confirmed the development and added that it was considering its next line of action.

"Maroc Telecom takes note of the decision of the Management Committee of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency relating to anticompetitive practices on the fixed line market and fixed broadband internet access. Maroc Telecom reserves the right to exercise the remedies provided by law," the operator said in a statement.

According to the regulator, Maroc Telecom is the leading mobile and internet connection provider in Morocco, with about 45% market share. The operator is listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris. It posted US$312-million net profit for the first half of 2019.

It also has subsidiaries in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Togo, and the Central African Republic.

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