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Telecom Italia wants unbundling fee hike; rivals split on network future

13 Oct 2008

Telecom Italia is to approach the Italian telecoms regulator Agcom this week to call for an increase to its network unbundling charges. A report from Dow Jones quotes the telco’s chief regulatory officer, Alessandro Talotta, who says that Telecom Italia is looking to raise the unbundling fee by around EUR1 from the current level of EUR7.60 a month. The incumbent operator says the price hike is necessary to cover costs and that Italy has some of the lowest unbundling tariffs in Europe. Rival operators such as FastWeb have opposed the move, saying it will harm competition.

FastWeb has also spoken out against a proposed spin-off of Telecom Italia’s fixed line networks business into a separate company. FastWeb CEO Stefano Parisi told Dow Jones: ‘We don’t favour a possible spin-off of Telecom Italia’s network, because that would probably be only a financial solution for Telecom, but not a good deal for the whole sector in Italy.’ Parisi says that setting up a new company would enable Telecom Italia to transfer some of its operating costs and part of its EUR37 billion debt to the new unit. He says a functional separation of the incumbent’s networks business would be sufficient to ensure that competitors have equal access to its infrastructure. Another Italian operator, Tiscali, is in favour of a network spin-off, however. The firm’s CEO Mario Mariani said: ‘A separate company including both the old and the new broadband network would be the way to ensure equal treatment to all the operators, including Telecom Italia.’

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