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The Italian Competition Authority fined Telecom Italia a total of 4.8 million euros for unfair commercial practices on 28 February 2018.

In the advertising campaigns for the Fibre Optics connectivity commercial offer (posters, website, below-the-line advertising and TV commercials) Telecom Italia used claims that emphasized the exclusive use of the fibre optics and/or the achievement of maximum performance in terms of speed and reliability of the connection, yet failed to adequately inform consumers about the real characteristics and resulting limitations of the service offered (in particular, the geographical limits of coverage of the various network solutions, the differences of available services and varying performances depending on the infrastructure used to offer the fibre connection).

Moreover, the various advertising campaigns omitted, or indicated in an insufficiently clear manner, that customers would have to pay an extra amount to benefit from the maximum speed advertised, thus nullifying the price advertised in the main claims of the offer.

According to the ICA, as a result of this omissive and misleading conduct, the consumer, due to the use of the generic term “fibre", is unable to identify the elements that precisely characterize the offer. The ICA added that on media other than the website, Telecom Italia also failed to adequately remind users of the need to verify the actual feasibility of the offer within their geographical area.

The absence of clear information on the characteristics and quality of the service therefore prevents the consumer from making a conscious decision on the purchase of the fibre offer.

The misleading and omissive conduct is of particular significance, considering the importance of the economic sector concerned, which is characterised by consumption patterns and user needs that change rapidly in the face of a growing supply of digital services.

Rome, 16 March, 2018