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Telemar, Brasil Telecom Investigated by Antitrust Regulator

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Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Grupo Oi units Telemar Norte Leste SA, Telemar Internet Ltda, Brasil Telecom SA and BRT Servicos de Internet SA are being investigated for alleged unfair practices in their call centers.

The antitrust arm of Brazil’s Justice Ministry, known as SDE, suspects the telecommunications companies have used their call centers to promote their own Internet service providers without mentioning competitors’ products, said Diogo Thomson de Andrade, director of the Economic Protection and Defense Department, in a telephone interview from Brasilia.

“This case is very similar to another regarding Telefonica SA,” said Andrade.

Rio de Janeiro-based Oi said it treats all the internet providers equally and will analyze the SDE investigation before commenting on it, according to an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.

Telefonica’s Telecomunicacoes de Sao Paulo SA unit agreed with the Administrative Council for Economic Defense, or Cade, in November 2010 to allow clients to choose their Internet service provider online instead of through its call center.

The start of the investigation was reported today in Brazil’s official gazette.

Link to Company News: {BRTO4 BZ <Equity> CN <GO>} Link to Company News: {TNLP3 BZ <Equity> CN <GO>}

To contact the reporter on this story: Mario Sergio Lima in Brasilia Newsroom at mlima11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net