I850-I850B - ICA: FiberCop gets the green light. The commitments of TIM, Fastweb, Tiscali and KKR submitted after the start of the proceedings have been accepted
The commitments, positively assessed by the Authority, will make it possible to reduce barriers to the acquisition of operators and support infrastructure. The AGCM will monitor that obligations are fulfilled
The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato closed the proceedings on the agreements for access to FiberCop's infrastructure, accepting the commitments proposed by TIM, Fastweb, Tiscali and the companies of the KKR fund. The proceedings initiated on 15 December 2020 due to many competition issues raised by the agreements related to FiberCop. In particular, competition in the wholesale fixed telecommunications markets was allegedly reduced without determining a real infrastructure of the alternative operators who would have assumed - given the characteristics of the project, relating to the secondary network alone - merely the role of TIM service retailers, without any significant qualitative or economic differentiation.
The proceedings covered very complex aspects of the network and the Authority aimed at balancing the benefits in terms of investment sharing with the risks of competition restrictions. According to the Antitrust, infrastructure competition, in particular the existence of many competing wholesale and retail networks and suppliers, is an essential aspect of the telecommunications market, driven by the logic of the scale of investments. Infrastructure independence indeed results in better services - such as higher speed profiles different than the regulated standards -, in greater economic efficiencies of the network that ensure advantages to telecommunications operators and benefits for consumers. In large areas of the national territory, the demand for communication services makes it possible for several fixed telecommunication networks, that have already been completed or are in the process being of completion, to be present. Sharing some of the investment costs will make it possible to extend the areas where infrastructure competition may exist.
As a whole, the commitments accepted by the Authority are based on two pillars, which consist of reducing the barriers to the acquisition of customers, or telecommunications operators, in the fixed telecommunications wholesale market, favouring full infrastructure competition and favouring infrastructuring by reducing the related costs and establishing strict deadlines and coverage targets. As regards the first pillar, the commitments make it possible to reduce the risks of foreclosing the demand for wholesale telecommunication services by telecommunication operators, by reducing the guaranteed minimums and the geographical scale of project membership (from national to municipal or sub-municipal) and by introducing membership profiles to the FiberCop project based on long-term rights, without guaranteed minimums. On the investment side, TIM provided a definite and defined timetable for the infrastructure plan and agreed to supply, together with FiberCop, the necessary information to plan investments by alternative operators. In addition, TIM will facilitate the infrastructuring of alternative operators by offering them dark fibre in the primary network, thus reducing costs and infrastructure times. Moreover, as regards the infrastructure, Fastweb has committed to following a programme until 2026, in order to access FiberCop services as an operator effectively independent from TIM and Tiscali has modified and/or terminated a number of contracts that did not determine any infrastructure, while limiting the contestability of the wholesale supply.
A further important objective which the Authority intends to achieve is the effective implementation of the commitments. In this regard, a well-structured plan will be used to monitor and ensure fulfillment of obligations and compliance with the hedging objectives. A first check will be made within sixty days. In conclusion, the Authority has considered the commitments to be sufficient to overcome the anti-competition concerns indicated in the decision of initiating proceeding and has considered that, also in light of the purposes underlying the Italian strategy for ultra-wideband, the commitment decision adopted, by preserving and fostering infrastructure competition, is essential in terms of achieving - by 2026 - the more general connectivity objectives at 1 Gbit/second throughout the national territory.
Rome, 24 February 2022