RealTime IT News

Antitrust Stops Telecom Italia's High-Speed Internet

Following protests from Infostrada,, the Italian government has stopped Telecom Italia's move towards high-speed Internet service, saying that the initiative violates state antitrust laws.

In recent months, Telecom Italia had begun experimental marketing of FastInternet service in Rome, Milan, Turin, and Bologna, utilizing wide and ADSL technology.

The service carried a 400,000 lira (US$216) activation charge, plus a fixed 600,000 lira (US$324) annual fee. For this, customers received high-speed Internet access, with 24-hour online capability at no additional fee.

The initial success, particularly in the business sector, led Telecom Italia into the second phase of FastInternet--commercial marketing on a national scale. The flagging by Infostrada, however, caused communications authority, Enzo Cheli, to investigate the new offering in regards to its legality under Italy's antitrust laws.

Though the former state-controlled telecommunications giant, became a private, share-holding company in recent years, Telecom Italia still maintains a monopoly on Italy's domestic communications network. As such, customers utilizing Internet services from competing carriers are required to pay a per-minute connection fee.

Because the FastInternet package eliminates these charges for Telecom Italia clients, state watchdogs concluded that such service did, in fact, violate antitrust legislation.

Last week, Enzo Cheli told journalists that there is no doubt that allowing FastInternet to proceed, at this time, would put other carriers at a marketing disadvantage, based exclusively on Telecom Italia's monopoly of domestic network.

Infostrada is the nation's second largest telecommunications company.