Telecom Italia: Antitrust Authority ruling unjustified

05/02/2001 - 00:00 PM

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Telecom Italia considers the decision taken today by the Italian Competition and Market Regulatory Authority to be incomprehensible and wholly unjustified, and announces that the company intends to lodge an appeal against this ruling with the Lazio Regional Administrative Court. Telecom Italia stresses above all that the majority of the imputations leveled by the Antitrust Authority refer principally to the period between October 1998 and November 1999, when the market was completely different to how it is today, and that since then strong development of competition has completely changed the situation.

Telecom Italia furthermore considers that the size of the fine announced today is disproportionate, particularly when taking into account the actual market of reference which is still in its initial developmental stage. This punishment has been fixed without regard for the clarifications supplied by Telecom Italia during the long inquiry process, and without taking into consideration the company´s cooperative and collaborative stance throughout.

With regard to the principle elements of the Antitrust Authority measure, Telecom Italia wishes to emphasize that:

- as regards the refusal to supply direct base band metallic continuity analogue circuits during the time period covered by the investigation, the Company did indeed commercialize around 200 base band direct circuits to end-users, other operators and Internet Service Providers. In just two cases was this service not supplied, as a result of a technical fault that was subsequently remedied;
- as far as commercialization of end-user ADSL technology services is concerned, the Antitrust Authority´s statements regarding the discriminatory nature of the wholesale offering do not reflect the true situation. The Authority sanction is being applied despite the fact that after the trial period, and subsequent to having obtained authorization from the Communications Regulatory Authority, this offer was extended to everybody on the basis of the figures set by the Authority itself. Among other things the fine, which dates to 1998 and 1999, refers to a trial of the service for just 64 customers;
- as for the obstructive behaviour Telecom Italia is alleged to have maintained in the xDSL services market, the Antitrust Authority has not paid any heed to the fact that the Communications Regulatory Authority took a full nine months to authorize Telecom Italia´s wholesale offering, despite the fact that as early as May 2000 Telecom Italia had submitted to the Authority its proposed offer, in conformity with ruling no. 2/00/CIR, without receiving any response whatsoever until 31 October that year. This serious delay cannot but be deemed to have been a contributory factor to delays in development of this market.

Telecom Italia reckons that the decision taken today by the Antitrust Authority is an unjustifiable punishment for a company that over the last few years has made significant investments in broadband xDSL technology services. At the same time, this measure causes grave damage to the only European telephone company that has been fully committed to unbundling its local loop, in the conviction that this is a fundamental and decisive step for achieving full competition in the telecommunications market.