Omnitel, Tele2 pegged for misleading ads

  • 2004-12-01
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - The Lithuanian Competition Council on Nov. 26 imposed fines on two mobile-telephone operators - Omnitel and Tele2 - for advertising violations. Tele2 must pay a fine of 60,000 litas (17,400 euros) for using misleading and comparative advertising, while Omnitel was fined 30,000 litas for comparative advertising and ordered to withdraw its ad.

Despite these penalties, both companies defend their advertisements.

Tele2 said it intended to appeal the competition watchdog's decision, and Omnitel said it was considering doing the same.

Attention was brought to the Omnitel ad when the company claimed that its average service price was the best in the country, which drew complaints from Tele2 and Eurocom, another mobile-service provider.

"We are considering appealing the council's decision," Dainius Pupkevicius, Omnitel vice president, said.

Tele2 was fined for making a misleading comparison between rates for its prepaid service Mazylis and those of Omnitel's prepaid service Ezys. The latter complained to the competition watchdog.

"I think that the fine is too big. We are going to appeal it. We were fined more heavily than our competitors on the grounds that it had not been the first complaint over our ads to the council," said Petras Masiulis, CEO of Tele2.

Despite telecommunications ad fraudulence, the market is doing especially well this season. The total number of mobile-telephone subscribers in Lithuania reached 2.98 million at the end of September, up by 8.5 percent from late June, according to data from the country's Communications Regulatory Authority.

Omnitel held a 41.1 percent market share in terms of user numbers. Tele2 was second with 32.5 percent and Bite GSM was third with 25.8 percent.