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Italians to Separate

9:15 AM -- It looks certain that Telecom Italia (TIM) is going to do the splits. Doctors and nurses will be present.

What are we rambling about? Functional separation, that's what, where a carrier creates a separate business unit to manage and run the fixed access network in an effort to create an even playing field for all service providers using the infrastructure. It's something that BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), for example, has already done. (See BT Opens Up Access.)

As we reported last month, Telecom Italia is keen to follow suit, and analysts believe it will create new marketing opportunities for the incumbent. (See Telcos Consider the Splits.)

Now Italian telecom regulator AGCOM has spelled out its plans -- to consult with Telecom Italia and other parties and come up with a game plan by the end of this year -- in its annual report. You can read the English language version of that report at the regulator's Website. Page eight is the one to skip to.

AGCOM notes, though, that things may not go exactly to plan: "Telecom's new ownership is not yet perfected; and this leads to longer discussion times." (See TI Stake Buy Delayed and Telefónica Takes Stake in Telecom Italia.)

Basically, there's a holdup in the acquisition of a controlling stake in Telecom Italia, but various reports suggest this might be sorted out during the next six to eight weeks.

While all this spells quite radical change for the Italian incumbent and telecom market in general, it might be comforting to know that some things never change -- Italy is still the same shape as a boot.

— Ray Le Maistre, Professional Splitter, Light Reading

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