March 13, 2017 / 2:14 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Czech watchdog to investigate mobile telecoms prices

(Adds operators, association comments)

PRAGUE, March 13 (Reuters) - Czech competition watchdog UOHS said on Monday it would start an investigation into the national market for mobile telecoms services to see if there is any illegal coordinated action among network operators.

“The goal will be to find out whether there exists any reason for the competition regulator to take action in these markets,” it said in a statement on its website.

“This will concern investigating indications whether ... there has been banned coordination by competitors, or abuse of a dominant position,” it said.

Network operators O2 Czech Republic, Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile and Vodafone have faced growing criticism by politicians who say Czechs pay some of the highest prices for mobile telecom services in Europe.

Political parties agreed earlier this month to fast-track legislation this year before an October election with the aim of bringing prices down by giving more powers to the telecoms regulator and strengthening consumers’ rights.

The competition regulator’s move came as a surprise after it had earlier said it had no reason to act.

A Vodafone spokeswoman said the company was ready to cooperate. O2 declined to comment on the regulator’s announcement on Monday. T-Mobile referred to a statement from the Association of Mobile Networks Operators.

Its operating director, Jiri Grund, said the regulator’s move was the right one. “I believe this step will contribute to clearing the situation on the Czech telecommunications market.” (Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Jan Lopatka, Greg Mahlich)

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