The regulator argues that the fine such should be heavier
New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has appealed a ruling imposing a fine of NZ$2.25 million (£1.15 million) on Vodafone over its FibreX broadband service, having originally sought a fine of NZ$5.8 million.
The ruling, by the Auckland District Court, related to a perceived implication in Vodafone New Zealand’s marketing that its FibreX fibre-optic and copper-cable broadband offering was a fibre-to-the- home service.
The Commerce Commission, which is the country’s competition, consumer and regulatory agency, filed the appeal with the High Court.
The Commission also noted that Vodafone pleaded guilty to charges relating to its online address checker, involving indications to consumers that FibreX was the only available broadband service at their address.
Anna Rawlings, chair of the Commerce Commission, said the regulator would argue that the fine did not appropriately reflect the seriousness of the offending, nor Vodafone’s size and financial resources.
The Commission will also argue that Vodafone’s conduct was wilful rather than grossly careless and allowed the operator to make significant commercial gains.
“The Commission sees this case as raising important issues relating to compliance with the Fair Trading Act. The fines imposed for this type of offending must be significant enough to deter Vodafone and other large businesses from engaging in this type of conduct in the future”.
In a statement on the FibreX ruling, Vodafone said, meanwhile: “We are very disappointed with the outcome and respectfully disagree with the Court’s decisions.
“We will be appealing both the conviction and the fine. Our appeal will set out our strong belief that there are several errors with the original conviction decision and that there are aspects of the FibreX judgement that simply misunderstand the services we sell and are not in the best interests of consumers or future competition”.
“Vodafone has spent over $25 million on improvements to HFC [hybrid fibre coaxial service], and the service is a well-performing, price- competitive product.
“Healthy digital infrastructure competition and maximising customer choice should be welcomed, to offer New Zealanders a wider range of broadband internet access types depending on what they value most.”