CCP takes action against Pesco for abusing its dominant position

Zubair Qureshi

The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) in a recent order dated December 13, 2022 has found Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) committing violation of Section 3 of the Act, i.e., abusing its dominant position.

According to a press handout issued on Monday, the CCP has held that Pesco being a dominant market force for “Right of Way (ROW) through electric poles availed by different types of cable service providers in the geographic boundary of Peshawar,” since it solely owned/managed the poles and there were no other substitutes.

According to the statement, for the same ROW being provided to all cable operators, the Complainants (i.e., Nayatel Pvt. Ltd and Cyber Internet Services (Pvt.) Ltd.) were charged an enhanced fee from PKR 10 per pole to PKR 100 per pole as compared to basic TV cable operators without any legitimate objective justifications. The terms have been held as discriminatory in contravention of Section 3(3)(b) of the Act. Pesco had abused its superior bargaining position and imposed further unfair trading conditions in contravention of Section 3(3)(a) of the Act on the Complainants, i.e., that they must provide 10-minute advertisements and free internet connection facilities to all Pesco offices.

It further said that Pesco had annulled its pole renting policy after initiation of the show-cause proceedings, mainly on the pretext of safety grounds. However, as the same inter alia related to an essential public utility/ROW and there were no other substitutable means available for the Complainants to provide cable, internet, and telephony services to end consumers, thus, negatively impacting consumers and other stakeholders alike, Pesco was found to have abused its dominant position in contravention of Section 3 of the Act.