January 18, 2011 / 3:15 PM / 9 years ago

Spain's competition body opens mobile price probe

MADRID, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Telefonica (TEF.MC), Vodafone (VOD.L) and Orange FTE.PA are under investigation for allegedly charging rivals too much to rent their networks in Spain for messaging services, the country’s competition authority said on Tuesday.

Spain’s largest three telecoms operators, which own mobile networks throughout the country, rent to both non-telecoms firms such as department store El Corte Ingles as well as to rival telecoms operators such as Jazztel JAZ.MC.

Renting allows those companies to then offer services to their customers, either adding mobile services to marketing deals for other products or through targeting niche markets such as immigrants who call or text particular countries frequently.

Spain’s National Competition Commission said it would rule within 18 months on whether Telefonica, Vodafone and Orange were setting wholesale prices too high for SMS and MMS. (Reporting by Robert Hetz; Writing by Sarah Morris; Editing by David Holmes)

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