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.

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