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IP/09/1613

Brussels, 29 October 2009

Telecoms: Commission calls on Italian telecoms regulator to ensure that new separation arrangements for Telecom Italia and Telecom Italia's commitments endorsed by the regulator promote and do not jeopardize effective competition

The European Commission, in a letter sent today, comments on the draft decision of the Italian telecoms regulator (AGCOM) to impose regulatory obligations on the retail market for access to telephony services and on the wholesale broadband markets. The Commission specifically comments on undertakings offered by Telecom Italia, which introduce significant changes in its internal organisation and are supposed to ensure more transparency and non-discrimination on the markets concerned. These undertakings are part of the proposed obligations and subject to national and Community consultations.

"It is vital that the Italian regulator AGCOM considers the undertakings, to which Telecom Italia committed, as regulatory remedies and has consulted the Commission and other regulatory authorities on those remedies in a transparent manner", said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner. "I note that other regulatory authorities, such as in Poland, are also faced with undertakings proposed by the incumbent operator. Such undertakings constitute regulatory obligations to the extent that they concern modifications of currently imposed remedies, new remedies or the enforcement mechanism. Therefore, the undertakings have to be subject to a consultation both at national and Community level prior to adoption. It must also be ensured that such a commitment-driven approach takes account of the interest of alternative operators and that their right to turn to the regulator AGCOM is not impeded or delayed by these commitments".

" I welcome the notification of Telecom Italia's undertakings as part of the remedies that will be imposed on the incumbent operator. The notification has contributed to transparency and legal certainty, in line with the objective of ensuring a harmonised application of the telecoms regulatory framework throughout the EU. It is crucial that AGCOM closely monitors and enforces, if necessary, the implementation of these undertakings in order to ensure their effectiveness and that the Supervisory Board and the Office of the Telecommunication Adjudicator contribute to quickly resolve any disputes to the benefit of alternative operators and competition in Italy", said EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes.

Today, the Commission sent a letter to the Italian telecoms regulator, in which it comments on AGCOM's proposed regulatory obligations to be imposed on Telecom Italia (TI) on the market for retail access to telephony services and the markets for wholesale broadband access (which alternative operators need to provide their own internet services). The undertakings of TI are part of the regulatory remedies proposed in the current draft measures, insofar as they affect regulatory procedures and concern the implementation of the regulatory obligations.

In its letter, the Commission has stated that any modifications of the undertakings which have an impact on competition and/or on the competitors of TI should again be subject to consultations at national and Community level. It has also called on AGCOM to define the exact manner in which the undertakings are to be implemented taking account of third parties' comments.

The Commission also asked AGCOM to ensure the correct application of the undertakings, so that they will improve the regulatory environment in Italy.

With regard to the newly established bodies (i.e., the Supervisory Board and the Office of the Telecommunication Adjudicator, OTA Italia) which aim at facilitating the enforcement of the undertakings, the Commission stated that they should not interfere in any way with the exercise of AGCOM’s ex-officio powers.

The Commission also commented on the regulatory treatment of NGA networks in Italy, and in particular invited AGCOM to impose a strict cost-oriented access price to passive infrastructure and dark fibre, to monitor the need for fibre access unbundling and to develop remedies specifying in detail the migration process from copper to fibre loops.

Background:

The Italian regulator's draft decision follows its second round market review from March 2009 of the markets for access to the public telephone network at a fixed location for residential and non-residential customers, wholesale (physical) network infrastructure access (including shared or fully unbundled access) at a fixed location and wholesale broadband access, in which AGCOM notified the relevant market definitions and designated the incumbent, Telecom Italia, with significant market power. The remedies to be imposed and a thorough analysis of the impact of the undertakings of TI were to be notified at a later stage.

Today's letter is sent by the Commission under the " Article 7 procedure ", which is part of the EU's telecoms rules. This procedure gives national telecoms regulators considerable scope to achieve effective competition, but requires them to notify the Commission of regulatory measures.

For further information:

The Commission's letter will be made available at:

http://circa.europa.eu/Public/irc/infso/ecctf/library?I=/commissiondecisions


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