Last week, the Albanian Competition Authority intervened after Vodafone Albania, Telekom Albania and Albtelecom increased their tariffs by ALL 200 and doubled the minimum recharge value from ALL 100 to ALL 200.
The move sparked strong reactions from consumers who felt that the high price increase across three of the main providers was unfair and it was reported to the Competition Authority.
The matter was then investigated and following market monitoring, they opened an investigation into the possibility that the companies had conspired to restrict competition through the use of agreements between the three entities.
The Authority ordered that the price rise be suspended until the investigation could be completed.
On Friday, the Authority decided that based on Article 44 of Law no 9121/2003, the actions of the companies posed a risk of serious and irreparable damage to competition in the market due to suspicion of prohibited agreements being used, creating a cartel between telecoms providers. They ruled that companies had a maximum of five days to lower the prices to the previous level, pending the outcome of the full investigation that must be concluded by 31 March.
The Authority stated that failure to comply could result in fines of up to 10% of annual turnover and 5% the daily turnover being leveraged against them.
The three companies took immediate action to lower the prices in accordance with the instructions of the Authority.This is not the first time that mobile phone companies in Albania have been accused of conspiring to stifle competition. In 2017, operators changed the duration of their monthly packages to 28 days instead of 30. The matter was investigated by the Authority and the operators were ordered to resume the 30-day duration once again.