Supreme Administrative Court to review bitstream case

The Swedish Supreme Administrative Court announced yesterday that it has granted leave to appeal in the so-called bitstream case and has decided that the ruling made by the County Administrative Court and decision of the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) may not be carried out until further notice. The latter implies that no orders can be received for the time being by Skanova Bitström, which was launched in Sweden as a consequence of the original requirements laid down by the PTS.

Two weeks ago the Administrative Court of Appeal in Sweden decided not to review the ruling made by the County Administrative Court and the decision of the PTS regarding bitstream access. TeliaSonera launched a wholesale offering in compliance with the original requirements laid down by the PTS. TeliaSonera also chose to appeal the decision of the Administrative Court of Appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Supreme Administrative Court has now announced that it has granted leave to appeal the case. In addition, the Court has also decided to grant inhibition in which the ruling made by the County Administrative Court, and the decision of the PTS, may not be carried out until the Supreme Administrative Court decides on the case or makes another decision. TeliaSonera will therefore not take orders for Skanova Bitström for the time being.

TeliaSonera is satisfied that the Swedish legal system functions and allows a comprehensive review of decisions of principal importance since there is uncertainty as to how legislation shall be applied to the bitstream access case.

Background
Swedish households and companies can obtain broadband in several different ways. The technology that is used the most to offer broadband service is the copper cable network, which is already open, and in which other operators have purchased more than 400,000 unbundled copper pairs for broadband by means of LLUB, or Local Loop Unbundling. In addition, broadband is offered through cable television networks, newly built fibre optic networks and radio networks in Sweden. Today, a large number of operators are competing for Swedish customers with a number of different offerings based on many different technical solutions. Thus, in TeliaSonera’s opinion, it is unreasonable for a company to be forced to invest in yet another regulated product in the copper network. Bitstream is a refinement of LLUB, which is already offered on the market today.

TeliaSonera has raised objections to the PTS’s decision and has been supported by independent expertise in competition law on several points. The County Administrative Court did not consider TeliaSonera’s objections and only stated that it generally agrees with the assessment made by the PTS. Against this background, TeliaSonera felt there was reason to appeal the bitstream ruling of the County Administrative Court to the Administrative Court of Appeal, which announced in a split decision that it would not grant TeliaSonera review of dispensation. According to the bitstream decision, investments that TeliaSonera has made for its customers in a competitive market could be used by competitors who are not willing to make corresponding investments. The legal position of the obligation that the PTS imposes on TeliaSonera is of principal importance. In TeliaSonera’s opinion, this obligation is a greater intervention against the company than what the law permits.

For further information journalists can contact:
TeliaSonera’s Press Office, +46 (0)8 713- 58 30