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Dutch judge bans 'free broadband for schools' offer

It's anti-competitive, he says... schools may disagree
Written by Christophe Guillemin, Contributor

It's anti-competitive, he says... schools may disagree

Dutch courts have criticised the country's incumbent telco, KPN, for its scheme to provide free high-speed internet access for schools. Apparently, the offer was considered an abuse of it's dominant market position and was discouraging the competition from investing in the sector – leading the judge to decree that as of last week, the operator will have to stop handing out free broadband.

Two rival operators, Easynet and NL.tree filed the complaint against Xs4all, a subsidiary of the Dutch incumbent, on grounds of anti-competitive procedures, claiming that the offer effectively stymied the other broadband players in education.

KPN, however, had the backing of the Dutch regulators, notably Opta – the Netherlands' equivalent of Oftel. The telco has said it will appeal against the decision.

According to telecoms analyst Current Analysis, the decision will serve to balance out competition in the Dutch broadband market as a whole, where KPN has the lion's share at around 37 per cent.

"This will stop the company from becoming the sole provider of internet services in the Netherlands' 10,000 schools", analysts said.

"But for Easynet and NL.tree, there is potentially a risk of bad publicity... This case could be seen as a way of defending private interests against the public interest of seeing affordable, quality education in the hands of teachers and pupils", they added.

Christophe Guillemin writes for ZDNet France. Translation by Jo Best.

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