Saturday, 29 February 2020

Antitrust probe fines Italian operators €228 million for pricing collusion

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 03 February 20

Italy’s top four operators were fined on Friday for breaching competition rules

In 2018, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) launched an investigation against the country’s top four operators – Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Wind Tre (CK Hutchison), and Fastweb (Swisscom) – after they were accused on cooperating to raise their prices. …

In 2018, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) launched an investigation against the country’s top four operators – Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Wind Tre (CK Hutchison), and Fastweb (Swisscom) – after they were accused on cooperating to raise their prices. 
 
Back in 2017, the four Italian telcos collectively implemented a 28-day billing cycle, which effectively resulted in the addition of an extra monthly bill for consumers every year. 
 
In 2018, this controversial practice was stopped by the AGCM, but the extent to which the operators in question had purposefully aligned themselves with this unified strategy was unknown. Following the cessation of this policy, the four operators were then accused of collaborating to raise their prices.
 
Now, after nearly two years of digging, the AGCM has made the decision to fine the companies a total of €228 million.
 
Telecom Italia will have to pay €114 million, Vodafone €60 million, and Wind Tre and Fastweb both €39 million.
 
The fine is intended as a deterrent to prevent further collusion in future, though how effective this will be remains to be seen, and the operators will likely appeal the decision. 
 
These fines are nothing new for the Italian operators. Indeed, the four telcos, especially Telecom Italia, Vodafone and Wind Tre, have faced a myriad of fines and investigations in recent years. 
 
Already in 2020, the three aforementioned companies have been fined around €2 million by Italian regulator Agcom for continuing to charge customers after their credit ran out. As of last month, they will also face an additional investigation by AGCM for failing to allow customers to pay for their fixed or mobile contract by means of a foreign bank account. 
 
Nonetheless, the fines have not prevented Telecom Italia from achieving record speeds with their 5G network, reaching highs of over 2 Gbps in a commercial network.
 
 
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