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O2 and Vodafone 'may face huge fines'

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Noel Dempsey has said collusion between O2 and Vodafone in Ireland could be dealt with more seriously when new telecommunications legislation is introduced later in the year.

His comment comes after the European Commission upheld a ruling by the Irish regulatory body, Comreg, that the Irish mobile phone market needed greater competition, and acknowledged that "tacit collusion possibly existed between O2 and Vodafone".

Mr Dempsey welcomed the commission's findings, and said that in other countries, particularly Finland, the opposite was the case. "It is virtually saying that they colluded together, that they have at least tacitly agreed not to tread on each other's toes, so that is a very serious statement from the commission."

He said that while Comreg could reprimand both corporations, a more substantial fine would be charged if planned legislation comes into effect. "That is something we are going to rectify in the telecommunications legislation that we intend to introduce during the course of this year," he added.