S3904 - ICA: removing obstacles to the development of the ultra-wide bands. Report to Parliament, the Government, AGCOM and ANCI
At the meeting of the 1st July 2020, the Italian Competition Authority [Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato] decided to address a report to the Presidents of the Senate of the Republic and of the Chamber of Deputies, to the President of the Council of Ministers, to the Minister for Economic Development, to the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority [Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni] and to the National Association of Italian Municipalities [Associazione Nazionale dei Comuni Italiani] regarding the development of ultra-wideband fixed and mobile telecommunication infrastructure, with a view to promoting investment and respect a correct competitive game.
In its report, the Authority noted that telecommunication infrastructure, both mobile and fixed, is an essential element to develop the business fabric and for the economic growth, as demonstrated during the recent health emergency by access to work and distance education.
Public institutions therefore need to remove unjustified obstacles to the installation and operation of telecommunication infrastructure, promote the use of electronic communications services by citizens, and boost private and public investment in these communications networks.
Primarily, the Authority refers back to that previously stated on the need to remove unjustified obstacles to installing mobile telecommunication and broadband wireless access systems, also by virtue of the renewed verification of the validity of the current electromagnetic limits and measurement standards in the light of the scientific assessments carried out on the matter, with the consequential, significant, favourable effects on service levels provided to consumers and businesses.
Secondly, the Authority hopes for an action to reduce the administrative burdens and barriers to the development of fixed telecommunication infrastructure with appropriate interventions on the authorisation procedures and restrictions to subcontracting, in order to foster competition between operators in providing quality infrastructure, with suitable benefits in terms of price.
Moreover, the Authority welcomes the provision of tools to support demand - through vouchers and electronic devices - for less well-off families (a cohesion intervention or the so-called phase I intervention), which meet a two-fold objective: social inclusion and education in the digital world. At the same time, the Authority considers it necessary that further interventions for families and businesses (the so-called phase II interventions) should be provided only for connections with speeds of at least 100 Mbps, in compliance with the principle of technological neutrality. Otherwise there would be unjustified support for technologies that have demonstrated, during the health emergency, to be inadequate in meeting the country’s connectivity needs.
Finally, the assumption is that a strong stimulus aimed at end customers to take advantage of new technologies may come from customer mobility between different operators.
In this sense, it seems appropriate to amend the rules relating to the right to withdraw under article 1(3) and 1(3-ter), of Italian Decree Law no. 7/2007, in order to prevent operators from claiming unjustified fees in the event of an early withdrawal - in terms of imposing costs relating to activation and ancillary services that do not correspond to the actual ones - such as to excessively restrict a customer’s ability to change operator.
On the other hand, eliminating any contractual obstacle to changing operator, including the existing customer commitment to a 48-month contract, with obsolete technologies, would favour competition in delivering increasingly faster services. This instrument would also support investments tied to demand-driven connectivity without any public burden.
The Authority hopes that these measures will be adopted in such a way as to allow faster development in fixed and mobile telecommunication infrastructure and to ensure a competitive level playing field. Competition between operators, at every level of the mobile and fixed telephony service chain, can be the main driver to modernising telecommunication networks, ensuring that consumers are the real recipients of their beneficial effects, in terms of price, service quality, and technological innovation.
Rome, 8 July 2020