EU raids telecoms firms in Internet probe

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union said Thursday that its inspectors raided the offices of several telecommunications companies this week to see if they had abused their dominant position in the global market for Internet traffic.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said the probe is centered on Internet connectivity — how providers use wholesale services to connect their customers with websites.

Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange were among the targeted companies and both said that earlier investigations by national authorities had already come up emptyhanded.

Such raids are an initial step in investigations to see if abuse effectively takes place and the Commission insisted it did not mean any of the companies raided were guilty of anti-competitive behavior.

The European Commission has wide ranging authority in such probes and its fines can sometimes reach in the hundreds of millions of euros (dollars).

Deutsche Telekom said in a statement that it was “surprised” by the raids “since previous allegations have all turned out to be unfounded.”

“Similar investigations carried out by national regulatory bodies, who have also dealt with the issue in great detail, have also been abandoned,” the company said.

Orange said its “working practices have not been called into question in any way.”

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