TI under pressure to spin off network

17 Jun 2009

Italian antitrust regulator, Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Authority and Guarantor for Competition in the Marketplace – AGCM), has said that an independent national fixed line network is the best way to ensure full competition in the market. In his annual speech before parliament, AGCM chief Antonio Catricala said, ‘We know that separating the network from services is costly, but competition is the main thing for us.’ The comments have renewed pressure on incumbent operator Telecom Italia (TI) to spin off its network assets into a separate entity.

In February 2008 TI created a new business division dubbed ‘Open Access’ to independently manage its national network, and introduced a network supervisory board in April 2009 to ensure equal access to the network for its competitors. However, AGCM does not view these steps as a guarantee of full competition, Catricala said, ‘There will be no access or expansion if incumbents’ interests always prevail, if we don’t give confidence to new investments, if each time we choose the less destabilising solutions to preserve the current situation.’ TI Chairman Gabriele Galateri di Genola said, ‘I think our decisions, particularly concerning our Open Access division, are a clear demonstration of our intentions to work in an open and efficient way.’ TI maintains that any government intervention to force it to sell the network would be illegal.