Source AP ©

Vodafone Albania and AMC penalized for overcharging consumers

Two cell phone operators in Albania were fined Ђ3.76 million (US$5.52 million) for setting high prices for consumers.

The country's Competition Authority fined Albanian Mobile Communications, or AMC, 211.5 million leks (Ђ1.76 million, US$2.58 million) and Vodafone Albania 242.6 million leks (Ђ2 million, US$2.94 million) for violating antitrust laws and "abusing their dominant position (and) setting unfair prices in the mobile phone market," a statement said.

The companies had set prices far above the European Union and regional average during 2004-05, it said.

Officials at AMC and Vodafone said they needed to review the commission's ruling before responding.

AMC was opened in 1996 as a state-run venture before 85 percent of its shares were sold to the Greek-Norwegian company CosmoteTelenor in 2000, while Vodafone Albania was launched in August 2001. Together they have more than 2 million subscribers.

After buying the former state-owned fixed-line Albtelecom earlier this year, the Turkish Calik Enerji telekomunikasyon a.s., a consortium of Calik Enerji and Turk Telekom, will launch a third operator in spring 2008.