Telecom Italia Takes on Authorities Over ADSL Approval

Former state-owned telecommunications monopoly Telecom Italia threatened to take legal action
against government authorities if they continue to delay an approval related to the sale of its ADSL products.

Telecom Italia last month introduced FastInternet, through wideband ADSL technology, following successful market testing in major
cities such as Rome, Milan, Turin and Bologna. The national campaign
launching 24-hour access to FastInternet service for 400,000 lira (US$216)
activation charge, plus a fixed 600,000 lira (US$324) annual fee was quickly
challenged by telecom competitors.

Infostrada, the country’s second largest
carrier in fact filed a formal denunciation requesting the Italian
government stop Telecom Italia’s move towards high-speed Internet service,
saying that the initiative violated state antitrust laws.

The Italian Telecommunications Authority, Enzo Cheli, told journalists that there was no doubt that allowing FastInternet to proceed at that time would put other carriers at a marketing disadvantage, based exclusively on Telecom Italia’s continued monopoly on domestic networks. Because deregulation would allow all carriers to provide domestic as well as long-distance service as of January 1, FastInternet agreed to delay the launch until January 10.

As the date for Telecom Italia’s new initiative came and went without word
of approval from government authorities, company executives moved towards
legal action against the state, claiming that they intended to request
reimbursement for lost revenue should the matter remain unresolved.

Despite Telecom’s threat, a spokesperson from the office of Enzo Cheli told
the daily newspaper La Repubblica that no decision on FastInternet
authorization would come before January 26.

Telecom Italia, however, sees the government’s delay as a means to allow
competitors like Infostrata, Wind, and Albacom to establish ASDL technology, thus
taking the competitive edge out of FastInternet as an advanced service.

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