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TIM, Wind Tre, Vodafone & Fastweb Fined EUR 228 Million

Italy’s antitrust and competition authority AGCM has fined the operators Telecom Italia (TIM), Wind Tre, Vodafone Italia and Fastweb a total of EUR 228 million following a probe into possible collusion over their controversial 28-day billing practices. The operators were accused of infringing competition rules by collectively agreeing to raise their prices after introducing 28-day billing in 2017, effectively resulting in a 13th monthly bill every year. As a result, the watchdog fined TIM a total of over EUR 114 million, Vodafone 60 million, Wind Tre EUR 39 million and Fastweb over EUR 14 million.

In its ruling, AGCM said the fines are intended to have a deterrent effect with respect to possible future collusion between the operators. In March 2018 it took urgent precautionary measures to stop the practice after carrying out inspections into whether the operators “coordinated their commercial strategy in relation to the frequency of renewals and billing of offers in the market of fixed and mobile telecommunications retail services”.

The operators subsequently proceeded to inform customers that billing would again be calculated on a monthly basis starting in March and April 2018, although consumer associations accused them of applying unjustified increases to mobile and fixed-line subscription fees to compensate for the requirement to drop the practice.

Italian communications regulator Agcom also fined the operators a total of EUR 1.16 million each for calculating fixed line invoices on the basis of a 28-day period and overcharging customers over 12 months. It then ordered the companies to refund customers, although the pay-out has been delayed by successive appeals.―Telecompaper

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