The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine fined the telecommunications operator Lifecell LLC for violating the law “On Protection again Unfair Competition”, namely the dissemination of false and inaccurate information about the leadership in the provision of certain services.
The Antimonopoly Committee found that during different periods of the advertising campaign Lifecell disseminated the following statements:
- “Join the leader of the next generation of the Internet! The best coverage is 4.5G”, substantiating this statement by the presence of lead in the amount of spectrum in the 2600 MHz and 1800 MHz bands per one subscriber.
At the same time, the qualities of the leader of the fourth generation of the Internet should be evidenced not only by this parameter but also by others: the density of the base stations, the capacity of the radio network, its optimal settings, the number of subscribers and their activity.
- “# 1 IN ROAMING FOR THE INTERNET”, based on the comparison of the cost of their base rates with the base rates of competitors.
At the same time, the content of basic packages was not taken into account (for example, competitors offered additional unlimited messaging services, but Lifecell did not).
- “# 1 FOR SMARTPHONES”, substantiating this statement by the percentage of smartphone penetration in the mobile operator’s network determined on the basis of a survey.
At the same time, an ordinary consumer who is not an expert in telecommunications may not understand this clarification and perceive it as a statement of leadership in the quality of service delivery compared to competitors.
Based on the analysis of the collected data, the Committee concluded that the dissemination of misleading information about “leadership” in certain types of services without proper justification and using technical terminology could give Lifecell an undue advantage and put the company in a better position than its competitors.
Consequently, the operator’s behavior was recognized as unfair competition, and a fine of UAH 10.5 million was imposed.
The Committee emphasized that during 2018-21, Lifecell was repeatedly provided with binding recommendations for addressing the causes and consequences of violations in advertising communications and informing consumers in a way that will not be misleading.
The Committee emphasized that a prerequisite for the use of messages such as “leader”, “No. 1”, “best”, “first”, “single”, “unique”, “fastest”, “largest” is the observance of unambiguous wording and understandable to consumers. terminology, substantiation of statements with factual data, avoidance of exaggeration of the characteristics of goods or services.