UPDATE 1-Telecom Italia fined for market abuse of fixed-line network

Fri May 10, 2013 12:24pm EDT

MILAN/ROME May 10 (Reuters) - Italy's Antitrust Authority on Friday fined Telecom Italia 103.8 million euros ($135.9 million) for abusing its dominant market position as owner and manager of the country's fixed-line telephone network.

The authority said in a statement that Italy's largest phone group by market share had obstructed "the expansion of market competitors into voice telephone services and access to internet and broadband".

Telecom Italia rejected the claim, saying it had always assured rivals full and equal access to its fixed-line network in compliance with the current regulations.

The fine resulted from an investigation started in 2010 that found the former state-owned telecoms monopoly limited wholesale and retail access to its fixed-line network, the authority said.

The investigation was prompted by complaints from Italy's third-largest mobile phone operator Wind, which is controlled by Russia's Vimpelcom, and broadband company Fastweb, a unit of Swisscom.

Telecom Italia said it would appeal against the fine, which represents almost 1 percent of its 2012 core earnings, before the Lazio region administrative court.

Shares in Telecom Italia fell 1 percent to 0.646 euros on Friday. The blue chip Milan index rose 1.1 percent.

The Antitrust Authority's ruling comes as Telecom Italia prepares to make a decision in two weeks time about putting its fixed-line assets into a separate company, a move that would radically change the Italian telecoms market.

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