Telecom Italia Said to Face Regulatory Concern on Tariff Request

Italy’s telecommunications authority may oppose Telecom Italia SpA’s efforts to keep the rate it charges competitors for grid access once the company spins off the fixed-line network, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The Rome-based regulator, known as Agcom, is concerned that Telecom Italia’s informal request to maintain the same pricing for renting “last-mile” access to the copper-wire network is unjustified, said to the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

The regulatory commission will meet Thursday for an initial review of Telecom Italia’s request to keep its monthly rate of 9.28 euros ($12.42) for operators who want access to the network, according to the people. The regulator has held public hearings on its proposal for a lower monthly rate of between 8.62 euros and 9.25 euros, they said.

Telecom Italia has argued that a less rigid regulatory stance on its spinoff plan is crucial for its success. The company’s directors on May 30 approved a plan to separate the network, setting a precedent for Europe’s indebted phone companies as they look for new ways to raise funds and bargain for lighter regulations.

Telecom Italia’s fixed-line competitors, including Wind SpA and Fastweb SpA, are pressuring the regulator to cut the monthly access fee by at least 1 euro, according to a third person familiar with the matter.

Agcom may consider allowing a gradual reduction of its rules governing Telecom Italia’s new access unit from 2014 to 2016, said one of the people. That would hinge on the phone company agreeing to give all competitors equal access to the network, the person said. Representatives for Agcom and Telecom Italia declined to comment.

Italy’s competition regulator on May 10 fined Telecom Italia about 104 million euros for abusing its dominant position in network infrastructure. The company is appealing the decision.

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