Telecom Italia (TIM) has been fined EUR116 million (USD131 million) for abusing its dominant position in Italy’s broadband market. Following a three-year investigation, the Competition Authority (Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, AGCM) ruled that the former monopoly had carried out a ‘premeditated anti-competitive strategy’ which hampered its rivals’ efforts to gain market share in the broadband sector.
The investigation related to TIM’s 2017 plan to install fixed broadband networks in underserved areas via its ‘Cassiopea’ project, which was launched when it lost out in the first phase of a state-subsidised tender to select a telco to carry out rural rollouts; that contract – as well as the subsequent two stages of the nationwide rollout – was awarded to wholesale network operator Open Fiber. TIM had previously said it would not deploy fibre in areas where it did not make economic sense, prompting the government to push ahead with its subsidised rollouts. The telco was also found to have altered its tariff plans to lock customers into contracts to avoid them switching to a rival network.
The AGCM said TIM had ‘placed obstacles to the entry of other competitors, preventing both a transformation of the market according to conditions of infrastructural competition, and the regular competitive comparison in the market of retail services aimed at end customers’.
TIM has been given until 1 October 2020 to pay the fine, but says it will appeal the ruling, saying it is ‘surprised to have been sanctioned for planning to invest private funds in the modernisation of the country to achieve the objectives of the Digital Agenda, while having promptly adapted its proposition to meet regulatory requirements’.