ANISP (National Association of Internet and Electronic Communications Service Providers in Romania) announces its intention to request the Competition Council to start investigating a possible abuse of a dominant position by RCS-RDS, since the company refuses to accept interconnecting its IP network (IP peering) under fair conditions.
Interconnection is very important so that users of different networks can communicate with each other in optimal conditions, having maximum availability services, minimum access delay and without having national traffic transiting networks outside the country. When a direct interconnection is not available, a server – for example www.your-city-hall.com hosted on Operator A’s network could be accessed significantly harder, sometimes even inaccessible for subscribers of Operator B. Although in the past indirect interconnection (transit of 3rd party networks often outside the country) was very much used, the tendency of the Information Society to move all applications over the Internet makes this solution no longer viable, becoming a drawback for the development of e- government.
Currently it is very important to have the interconnection point as close as possible to the traffic’s origin and destination, as well as to correctly size the interconnection capacity. Otherwise, Internet services involving inter-network traffic will be of poor quality: as some of the traffic will traverse intermediary networks, the transfer speed will be lower, access time will be higher, the number of interruptions/failures will increase and last but not least – there will be an increase in data security breaches.
Unfortunately, RCS-RDS – the dominant player in the local cable TV and fixed internet market, with a market share estimated by the ANCOM (the regulatory authority) at over 50% of the total number of subscribers – chooses to not participate in Romanian Internet eXchange points so that the Internet traffic changed with some Romanian operators travels through Frankfurt or Budapest, etc. Alternatively, RCS-RDS requires operators who want interconnection in Romania to buy such services at an unjustified high price – taking advantage of the fact that tariffs for this kind of interconnection are not regulated – without offering the interconnection partners similar terms based on reciprocity.
For example – in the case of telephony services – the operators pay each other tariffs regulated by ANCOM when making inter-network calls, but in the case of Internet traffic a dominant operator may require any tariff for interconnection and may refuse to pay a symmetrical tariff, although it thus adversely affects its own subscribers, which will not be able to optimally access the services and content hosted in networks not directly interconnected.
The IP peering brings obvious benefits in terms of both quality and reduced costs for Internet traffic, thus refusing to make such interconnections – either explicitly or by setting cost barriers – is clearly an anti-competitive practice, meant to prevent the development of competing networks / services.