On June 19, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) issued to "Big Four" operators (PJSC VimpelCom, PJSC "MTS", PJSC "MegaFon", LLC "T2 Mobile") warnings about termination of actions "which contain signs of violation of antimonopoly legislation" , said in a statement to the FAS, received by RBC.
Based on the results of the investigation, the FAS found that the terms of contracts between mobile operators and banks with state participation in the capital "significantly" differ from the terms of contracts with other banks. Thus, the FAS saw "the creation of discriminatory conditions under which consumers of SMS-sending services are placed in an unequal position."
The operators of the "big four" should eliminate discriminatory terms of contracts within 14 days from the date of receipt of the warning, the FAS said.
A few months ago, the FAS started checking on the "big three" mobile operators because of a violation of the principle of network neutrality, said in early June, the deputy head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Andrei Kashevarov. "For banks with state participation, in particular, Sberbank and VTB, cellular operators' tariffs for sending SMS are set lower than for all other banks. This is discrimination, "he noted.
SMS messaging is the main way of the bank to inform customers about the transactions performed. In connection with the increase in tariffs by several major operators ("MegaFon" and Tele2), the banks increased the cost of SMS messages, said in May 2017, RBC market participants.
Thus, information on the increase in the cost of mailings from the beginning of 2017, RBC, was confirmed in Absolut Bank, Sberbank, Ak Bars Bank, UniCredit Bank, Transcapitalbank, Ural Bank for Reconstruction and Development (UBRD) and SMP Bank. According to Elena Bindusova, the director of the payment system department at the SMP Bank, banks' expenses on SMS-informing increased by approximately 30%.
In December, the FAS received a complaint from the National Council of the Financial Market (NFSM) on the fact of increasing prices for SMS for clients. Later, following the meeting of the Interregional Banking Council under the Federation Council, it was decided to instruct the FAS to conduct an investigation into the dramatic increase in the cost of SMS for banks by telecom operators.
Meanwhile, the FAS has already recognized the operator "T2 Mobile" (Tele2 brand), as well as the operators of the big three (PJSC "MegaFon", MTS, and "VimpelCom", which operates under the Beeline brand), violators of the competition law due to the increase prices for SMS.
The agency found that as a result of the operators' actions, tariffs for customers for SMS messages in the MegaFon network grew by 116%, MTS by 176%, VimpelCom by 77% and T2 Mobile by 33%. Together, these operators occupy 99% of the SMS-informing market, they concluded in the FAS.
At the same time, cellular companies stated that SMS is not the only way to inform, since there are also push notifications, e-mail messages, instant messengers, etc. Later, the operators appealed against the decision of the antimonopoly authority in the Arbitration Court, which eventually took their side, recognizing the FAS injunction as unlawful.