Italy’s Competition Authority (Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, AGCM) has launched an investigation into the ‘Flash Fiber’ joint venture (JV) which is being set up by Telecom Italia (TIM) and Fastweb. The two telcos announced in July last year that they planned to create a EUR1.2 billion (USD1.3 billion) vehicle to jointly deploy fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in 29 Italian cities. The venture is 80% owned by TIM and 20% by Swisscom subsidiary Fastweb.
The AGCM now says it is investigating the tie-up for possible violation of Article 101, which covers deals which could potentially limit or distort competition. The watchdog says the venture involves the two main vertically integrated operators in the sector and, as such, could ‘reduce the intensity of the static and dynamic competition’. It has sent its own inspectors and investigators from the antitrust unit of the police to the headquarters of both TIM and Fastweb to gather ‘elements relevant to the investigation’. Both TIM and Fastweb have issued statements to say that they believe that the JV is above board and that they are cooperating with the competition authority.
Fastweb already has two million homes covered by FTTH infrastructure and says the Flash Fiber JV will increase this to five million by 2020, which is equivalent to 20% of the population. It expects to have fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) equipment passing a further eight million premises by the same date, giving it overall fibre network coverage of around half the population.