UPDATE 2-Regulator OKs T.Italia plan to open up network

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ROME, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Italy’s telecoms watchdog approved Telecom Italia’s package of measures to open its fixed-line network to competitors on Thursday, ending the phone company’s long-running tussle with the regulator.

Without the agreement, Telecom Italia TLIT.MI risked having the regulator Agcom's recommendations imposed on it. The deal -- reached after more than a year of wrangling -- should allow it more freedom over its commercial offers in Italy.

“This is an important, historic decision,” Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe told a joint news conference with Agcom chief Corrado Calabro. “For Telecom Italia, this opens a new chapter that is more difficult and more complex, but to which we’ll adhere enthusiastically.”

As part of its plan, Telecom Italia initially created a new division called Open Access to independently manage the group’s network separately from the company’s services businesses. The aim was to ensure equal access to the grid by all competitors.

It also promised equal treatment to all wholesale clients.

But Agcom had refused to give the green light, demanding Telecom Italia make additional commitments by Dec. 8 before it finally gave its blessing on Thursday.

As part of the deal, Telecom Italia agreed to ensure more competition in the transition to its next-generation network, including creating a committee to oversee that transition.

The former Italian phone monopoly will also create an independent body tasked with ensuring it fulfils its pledges, which will be effective starting Jan. 1.

Separately, Agcom’s Calabro said he had addressed European Union concerns over being notified before approving Telecom Italia’s plans.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding had insisted that Italy give details of the measures before carrying them out, as required under EU telecoms rules and her spokesman said Italy finally submitted its notification of the move on Thursday.

Earlier the spokesman, Martin Selmayr, said the Commission was confident both the Italian regulator and the Commission would work together to ensure that the plans would be carried out in full compliance with EU telecoms law.

Editing by David Cowell