TLC Networks and the 5G

General antitrust

The Italian Competition Authority sends to the government its proposal aiming at removing potential legal or administrative burdens to the opening of markets and ensure the development of competition as well as promoting the economic recovery of the country
White & Case (Milan)
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White & Case (Milan)
On 23 March 2021, the Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) sent to the Italian government its proposals for changes to the Italian competition law for inclusion in the “annual law for competition” pursuant to Article 47 of Law 99/2009. The ICA reform proposals affect a broad variety of industries (...)

The Indian Competition Authority publishes the key findings of its market study on the telecom sector
Khaitan (Mumbai)
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Khaitan (Mumbai)
Tring Tring! CCI calls in the market study on Indian telecom sector* On 22 January 2021, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) published its market study on the Indian telecom sector (Market Study). Initiated by the CCI in January 2020 as part of its advocacy measures, the Market Study (...)

The EU Commission publishes a toolbox for regulating 5G networks
Morgan Lewis (Brussels)
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Morgan Lewis (Washington)
The rollout of 5G networks is taking countries around the world to the next generation of technology. This new generation of networks will offer untapped opportunities for business and services for citizens in a vast variety of sectors, such as transport, energy, manufacturing, media, and (...)

The Romanian Government drafts a law on the authorisation of 5G technology manufacturers and its effects on competition
Maravela, Popescu & Asociatii (Bucharest)
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Romtelecom (Bucharest)
The Romanian draft law on the authorisation of 5G technology manufacturers and its effects on competition represents a challenge for mobile operators and competition regulators. A draft law on measures relating to information and communication infrastructures of national interest and the (...)

The EU Commission proposes a European recovery plan which would be funded by borrowing on the financial markets
Baker McKenzie (London)
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Baker McKenzie (London)
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Baker McKenzie (London)
On 27 May 2020, the European Commission put forward its proposal for a European Recovery Plan (ERP) with a new EUR 750 billion funding via its financial recovery instrument, called the "Next Generation EU" which would be funded by borrowing on the financial markets. If approved by the Member (...)

The Australian Competition Authority seeks views from parties interested in the allocation and use of the spectrum in the 26-28 gigahertz (GHz) band
Baker McKenzie (Sydney)
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Baker McKenzie (Sydney)
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Baker McKenzie (Sydney)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) seeks views by 27 March 2020 from parties interested in the allocation and use of the spectrum in the 26-28 gigahertz (GHz) band. The spectrum is to be used for 5G technology. Organisations planning to utilise 5G technology may be (...)

The Estonian Competition Authority forms an opinion about the competition of 5G frequency licences and believes the frequency band should be divided into small blocks
Estonian Competition Authority (Tallinn)
The Competition Authority formed an opinion about the competition of frequency licenses in the frequency band of 3,410-3,800 MHz, as a result of which, the undertakings acquiring the licenses will start building a so-called 5G network for communications services. The Competition Authority (...)

The UK Government announces its plan to support digital Britain post-Brexit aimed at improving living standards and economic growth
Ashurst (London)
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Ashurst (London)
Last week, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley MP, announced the Government’s plans to support a digital Britain post-Brexit (click here to see the UK Digital Strategy). The strategy is aimed at improving living standards and economic growth by "increasing (...)

Anticompetitive practices

The UK Supreme Court confirms that it is possible to set global FRAND rates and global licences to portfolios of standard-essential patents (Unwired Planet / Huawei)
Baker Botts (Brussels)
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Baker Botts (Brussels)
The U.K. Supreme Court’s 26 August ruling on standard-essential patents (SEPs) is the latest in a series of recent decisions that are likely to have a profound effect on FRAND license negotiations across the globe, in particular for the next generation 4G and 5G mobile telecommunication (...)

The US DoJ announces that a proposed patent-pooling platform dedicated to 5G cellular technology standards for use in the automotive industry is unlikely to harm competition (Avanci)
Seyfarth Shaw (Boston)
DOJ Antitrust Division Approval of Pooling of “Essential” Standards Will Help Speed Integration of 5G Technology Into New Vehicles* The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division recently announced that it has concluded that a proposed patent-pooling platform dedicated to “essential” 5G (...)

The EU Commission sends a statement of objection to operators of mobile telephony regarding their network sharing agreement in the Czech market (O2 / CETIN / T-Mobile)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to O2 CZ, CETIN and T-Mobile CZ for their network sharing agreement* The European Commission has informed Czech operators of mobile telephony O2 CZ and T-Mobile CZ, as well as the Czech telecom infrastructure provider CETIN of its preliminary (...)

The EU Commission issues a statement of objections regarding network sharing in the 2G/3G/4G technologies but misses an opportunity to provide guidance on future 5G network sharing agreements (O2 / CETIN / T-Mobile)
Geradin Partners (Brussels)
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Geradin Partners (Brussels)
Network Sharing and EU Competition Law in the 5G Era: A Case of Policy Mismatch* Instead of working towards adopting a clear analytical framework for the assessment of NSAs under EU competition law, the Commission decided to launch proceedings in October 2016 and issue a Statement of (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Italian Competition Authority fines €116M the largest national telecommunications provider for broadband market abuse (TIM)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 25 February 2020, the Italian Competition Authority (“AGCM”) fined Telecom Italia (“TIM”) € 116 million for abusing its dominant position in the broadband market by hindering its competitors’ investments in ultra-fast broadband. TIM is currently the largest telecommunications pro- vider in Italy. (...)

The Munich District Court issues an anti-suit injunction in patent litigation preventing an automotive company from further pursuing proceedings in the US (Nokia)
McDermott Will & Emery (Dusseldorf)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Dusseldorf)
On July 11 2019, the Munich I District Court (Landgericht) issued an anti-suit injunction in patent litigation, preventing an automotive company from further pursuing proceedings in the United States. The Munich decision might become a landmark case because German courts have historically not (...)

The EU Commission publishes a roadmap on the Standard Essential Patents to support the development of the 5G mobile communications standard
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 10 April 2017, the European Commission published its roadmap on “Standard Essential Patents for a European digitalised economy” (the “Roadmap”) with the aim of supporting the development of the 5G mobile communications standard (“5G”) and the Internet of Things (“IoT”) universe. A standard (...)

Mergers

The German Government prohibits the acquisition of a communications technology company by a Chinese communication product manufacturer (IMST / Addsino)
Hogan Lovells (Brussels)
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Hogan Lovells (Dusseldorf)
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Hogan Lovells (Brussels)
Foreign investment control has become a key factor in M&A deals and 2020 has been an eventful year. A large number of economies have introduced foreign investment control regimes or tightened their existing rules. Now it appears that it is time to make use of them: this week Germany has (...)

The German Government prohibits the acquisition of a telecommunication company by a Chinese buyer under the foreign direct investment rules (IMST / Addsino)
Covington & Burling (Brussels)
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Covington & Burling (Frankfurt)
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Covington & Burling (Frankfurt)
On 2 December 2020, the German government prohibited the acquisition of German company IMST GmbH, Kamp-Lintfort (“IMST”) by a Chinese investor. This is the second high profile prohibition decision issued by the German government this year on the grounds of Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) rules. (...)

The US DoJ conditionally clears a fibre-based telecom merger in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (Liberty Latin America / AT&T)
US Department of Justice - Antitrust Division (Washington)
Justice Department Requires Divestiture In Order For Liberty Latin America To Acquire AT&T’s Telecommunications Operations In Puerto Rico And The U.S. Virgin Islands* Divestiture Will Preserve Competition for Fiber-Based Telecommunications Services for Enterprise Customers in Puerto Rico (...)

The US DoJ congratulates the merger of telecom operator on closing the agreed divestiture with a satellite TV company (T-Mobile / Dish / Boost)
US Department of Justice - Antitrust Division (Washington)
Justice Department Congratulates T-Mobile And Dish For Closing The Boost Divestiture* T-Mobile US Inc. (T-Mobile) and Dish Network Corporation (Dish) announced today that they closed T-Mobile’s divestiture of Boost Network (Boost) to Dish. Boost was legacy Sprint Corporation’s prepaid wireless (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s decision prohibiting a merger between two telecommunication companies (Telefónica UK / Hutchison 3G UK)
DG COMP (Brussels)
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Shearman & Sterling (Brussels)
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Shearman & Sterling (London)
Under the leadership of Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission has taken an increasing interventionist stand across all areas of antitrust enforcement, in particular in merger control. The EU’s General Court dealt that aggressive agenda a massive blow by annulling the first of her many (...)

The Australian Competition Authority blocks a proposed merger between a fixed-line provider and a mobile network operator (TPG / VHA)
Ashurst (Sydney)
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Ashurst (Sydney)
Following an 8 month investigation, on 8 May 2019, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ("ACCC") announced its decision to oppose the proposed merger between fixed-line provider TPG Telecom ("TPG") and mobile network operator Vodafone Hutchinson Pty Limited ("VHA"). VHA and TPG (...)

The US District Court of Columbia enters the final judgment regarding the merger of the third and fourth-largest telecommunication providers and allows for proposed structural remedies to proceed (T-Mobile / Spring)
US Department of Justice - Antitrust Division (Washington)
Court Enters Final Judgment in T-Mobile/Sprint Transaction: Order Allows Divestitures to Proceed* Today, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., concluded that the Antitrust Division’s resolution of its challenge to the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint was in the public interest and (...)

The EU Commission clears proposed acquisition of joint control in the telecommunications sector (INWIT/ TIM / Vodafone)
Ashurst (Brussels)
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Ashurst (London)
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Ashurst (London)
On 6 March 2020, the European Commission ("Commission") cleared the proposed acquisition of joint control over INWIT by Telecom Italia ("TIM") and Vodafone in case M.9674, combining the parties’ Italian telecommunications tower holdings as part of their 5G roll-out plan. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW - (...)

The EU Commission clears a joint venture agreement between two mobile network operators and explains why their network sharing agreement does not raise competition concerns (INWIT/ TIM / Vodafone)
Geradin Partners (Brussels)
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Geradin Partners (Brussels)
Network sharing and EU competition law in the 5G era: A case of policy mismatch* In January 2020, Vodafone Italia and Telecom Italia notified the Commission of a JV agreement to pool together their passive infrastructure. Under this agreement, Vodafone’s passive infrastructure is combined with (...)

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York clears merger between top third and fourth wireless communications providers (State AGs / T-Mobile / Sprint)
Weil, Gotshal & Manges (New York)
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Weil, Gotshal & Manges (Washington)
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Weil, Gotshal & Manges (Washington)
T-Mobile’s Marathon to Acquire Sprint: Five Takeaways from the T-Mobile/Sprint Antitrust Litigation After almost two years of scrutiny by state and federal regulators and an ensuing court battle, T-Mobile US, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) is moving forward with its acquisition of Sprint Corporation (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority imposes an interim measure suspending the implementation of a shareholder’s agreement and the radio access network sharing agreement in the telecommunications market (Telenet / Orange Belgium / Proximus)
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
Interim measure imposed on Orange and Proximus in respect of the joint venture for the sharing of the mobile radio access networks* The Competition College of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has at the request of Telenet Group NV and Telenet BVBA (Telenet) imposed on 8 January 2020 an (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority imposes interim measures suspending a joint venture for sharing the mobile radio access networks (Telenet / Orange Belgium / Proximus)
Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
On 22 November 2019, the Belgian companies Orange Belgium, SA/NV and Proximus, SA/NV concluded an agreement to create a joint venture for the sharing of the mobile radio access networks. However, the Telenet Group, SA/NV and Telenet, SPRL/BVBA ( jointly, ‘Telenet’) requested a deeper inquiry (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority imposes an interim measure to temporarily suspend the joint venture between two of the three main telecom companies in the national market (Telenet / Orange Belgium / Proximus)
Bird & Bird (Brussels)
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Bird & Bird (Brussels)
On 8 January, the Belgian Competition Authority ("BCA") imposed an interim measure to temporarily suspend the joint venture ("JV") between Orange and Proximus, two of the three main telecom players in the Belgian market. The cooperation between Orange and Proximus relates to the sharing of (...)

The Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal upholds the Competition Authority’s approval for an acquisition in the sector of telecommunications regulation (KPN / Vodaphone)
Jones Day (Amsterdam)
In Short The Ruling: The Dutch competition authority’s approval of KPN’s acquisition of fiber operator Reggefiber was upheld by the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal in February 2018. In assessing the merger’s competitive effects, the Tribunal notably considered regulatory measures (...)

State Aid

Regulatory

The French Competition Authority issues an opinion on the analysis of the fixed broadband and superfast broadband wholesale markets
Autorité de la concurrence (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence has issued an opinion to Arcep as part of the cycle of analysis of the fixed broadband and superfast broadband wholesale markets* Background Arcep requested the opinion of the Autorité de la concurrence on five draft decisions adopted by Arcep as part of the sixth (...)

The Romanian Government launches a draft law on the authorisation of 5G technology manufacturers with the potential exclusion of certain foreign businesses based on national security grounds resulting in decreased competition in an already oligopolistic market
Maravela, Popescu & Asociatii (Bucharest)
1. Background The Ministry of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communications launched on August 4, 2020 a draft law on measures relating to information and communication infrastructures of national interest and the conditions for the implementation of 5G networks (the “Draft Law”). The Draft (...)

The EU Commission publishes a communication aiming to create a Europe fit for the digital age
Ashurst (London)
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Ashurst (Frankfurt)
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Ashurst (Madrid)
On 19 February 2020, the European Commission ("Commission") published a Communication on shaping Europe’s digital future ("Digital Future Communication") together with a Communication on a European data strategy ("Data Strategy"), which contain a number of statements relating to EU competition (...)

The EU Commission endorses the toolbox of mitigating measures aiming to secure 5G network in the Union due to alleged ties between certain telecom equipment suppliers and foreign governments
Jones Day (Amsterdam)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
In January 2020, the European Commission endorsed the Toolbox of mitigating measures agreed by the Member States of the European Union to address security risks related to the rollout of 5G. The protection of national security, and cybersecurity in particular, are unquestionably legitimate (...)

The EU Commission publishes a code to regulate communications in Europe
Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Amsterdam)
In Short The Situation: On December 18, 2018, the European Union published its European Electronic Communication Code ("Code"). The Result: The Code overhauls the current legislative framework for telecommunications with the aim of consolidating existing legislations into a single Act. (...)

The OECD holds a roundtable on the financing of the roll-out of broadband networks
OECD - Competition Division (Paris)
Executive summary, by the Secretariat * 1. Considering the discussion at the roundtable and delegates’ written submissions, several key points emerge: (1) Nationwide broadband coverage is considered essential for the economic and social development of a country. Ubiquitous access to broadband (...)

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