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Italian FMC Face-Off

10:40 AM -- We love Italy, and we're also keen on a competitive duel, so Monday's news that Vodafone Italy and Telecom Italia (TIM) are going testa a testa on fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) gave us a double dose of pleasure. (See In Praise of Italia.)

News of the competing services comes just one month after Italian regulator Agcom gave the green light for such offerings. (See FMC Fusilli.)

Vodafone's Casa service will allow users to assign an Italian fixed-line number to the SIM card on their mobile phones, enabling fixed-line calls to be directed to mobile handsets. Users will also be able to make calls from their mobiles as if they were calling from their fixed-line numbers.

Telecom Italia's Unica service is the Italian version of UMA-based FMC services that have been launched in a few other European markets and by T-Mobile US Inc. in the U.S. (See T-Mobile Launches UMA in USA, Gateway Key to BT's Fusion Flop, Orange Doubles FMC Customers, and Swedes Are Home Free With FMC.)

But the incumbent is bundling it into a "quadruple-play" offering. So, for about €78 (US$110) per month and a one-time €99 ($140) fee, customers will get a Nokia E65 dualmode WiFi/UMTS handset, unlimited fixed-line voice calls from home, and 30 minutes of calls per day from the mobile network, plus Internet access and the Alice Home TV service. But users will get separate bills for fixed and mobile services.

A Vodafone Italy spokeswoman was quick to insist that Telecom Italia's service was inferior to Vodafone's. She said the Casa service is cheaper than Unica, could be used on many phones, and, with a launch date of October 22, will be commercially available before Telecom Italia's offering.

The news comes as Vodafone is reported to have struck a deal to buy Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO)'s Italian fixed-broadband business. For more on that speculation, click on this link.

— Michelle Donegan, Convergence and Antipasti Editor, Light Reading

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