Telecom Italia accused of violating competition laws

Italy's Communications Authority Thursday accused Telecom Italia SpA of violating national and European competition rules and recommended disciplinary action be taken against the incumbent Italian carrier. The Authority's findings will be passed to Italy's Antitrust Authority and could lead to punitive fines for Telecom Italia, the watchdog organization said.

Telecom Italia has offered commercial services to its customers without seeking prior approval from the Authority, has violated national and European norms on pricing and has failed to respect the Authority's guidelines on the pricing of fixed-to-mobile calls, the Naples-based regulator said in a statement. The carrier also made illegal use, for commercial purposes, of information received from other operators intending to activate carrier preselection for their customers, it said.

Telecom Italia responded with a tough statement emphasizing the correctness of its commercial offerings. "Such offerings are always positioned above cost and in the full respect of the conditions of openness required by the rules of the sector and of national and community Antitrust Authorities," the company said. Disciplinary action would be totally unjustified, it insisted.

Telecom Italia accused the Italian Communications Authority of delaying the liberalization of the market by the slowness and lack of clarity of its rulings. The company had merely used information obtained by its network division to inform customers choosing carrier preselection that the company was no longer responsible for their phone traffic, it said.

"It's not us who are blocking the liberalization of the market but, if anything, the Authority," a Telecom Italia spokeswoman said. "We are always in the firing line, but we are perfectly serene about our conduct."

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