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Court ruling lays bare fierce telecoms rivalry

A Supreme Court judge has warned of the potential dangers to consumers and economies of “near monopolies” in the telecommunications sector, stressing the need for “healthy and necessary” competition to protect users.

Puisne Judge Christopher Butler made the observations even while delivering a ruling that favours Gibraltar’s largest telecoms company, the government-owned Gibtelecom, at the end of a case that laid bare the tough competition between local rivals in the sector.

The judge was ruling on an appeal filed by GibFibreSpeed against a decision of the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority [GRA] relating to a request by the company for access to infrastructure belonging to Gibtelecom [Gibtel].

Gibtel had refused a request from GibFibreSpeed to access its Mount Pleasant data centre, prompting the private operator to appeal to the GRA.

The GRA looked into the matter and initially found that Gibtel’s refusal was “abusive, anti-competitive and discriminatory”.

But the authority later accepted Gibtel’s argument that it had no powers to require it to allow access to GibFibreSpeed.

That decision by the GRA was appealed to the Supreme Court but Mr Justice Butler, while sympathetic to GibFibreSpeed’s predicament, rejected the appeal.


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