On 9 February 2017, the Italian Competition Authority (the "ICA") opened an in-depth investigation into two leading Italian companies (namely, Telecom Italia S.p.A and Fastweb S.p.A., hereinafter the "Accused Companies"), both operating in the telecommunication sector.
The investigation started as the Accused Companies informed the ICA that they executed an agreement aimed at creating a joint venture (the “Agreement”) in the form of another company named Flash Fiber S.r.l. (“Flash”). Flash would be controlled equally by the Accused Companies in order to realize the optical fiber architecture (also called Fiber To The Home “FTTH”) in 29 Italian cities.
Although the Agreement was intended to promote a more efficient development of technological infrastructure, the ICA alleged that at the same time it may impede, restrict or jeopardize competition in the national market of services for wholesale on fixed network and that of services for retailer on broadband and ultra wideband telecommunications.
In particular, the ICA alleged that under the Agreement the Accused Companies could coordinate their commercial strategies on fixed, broadband and ultra wideband networks, thereby reducing competition between two of the major vertically integrated operators in the relevant sector.
In light of the above, the ICA alleged that the Agreement would amount to an anti-competitive agreement in contravention of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
No wrongdoing has yet to be proved and the investigation continues.