Following the recent introduction in Italy of the regulation on the offering of mobile services contained in EU Directive 96/2, on February 27, 1998 the Italian Parliament has enacted Law no. 29/1998 on the third operator of mobile communications on DCS 1800 technology. As known, under EU Directive 96/2, the number of licenses for mobile telecommunications systems may only be limited on the basis of essential requirements and in case adequate frequencies are not available.

The new Law assigns 10% of the frequency bands in the bandwidth range 1755 - 1785 MHz and 1850 - 1880 MHz to each licensee of public radiomobile GSM communication services Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) and Omnitel, in order to enable such providers to compete on the digital communication DCS 1800.

Apart from such two operators, another operator will be allowed to provide DCS 1800 services after the completion of the competitive bidding procedure set forth by the Ministry of Communications, to be concluded within May 31, 1998. The two joint ventures Wind and Picienne are expected to participate to such bidding and other interested parties seem to be Distacom, Itainvest and Bell Canada.

The same share of 10% of the frequencies is reserved to operators intending to experiment the DCS 1800 service prior to the allocation of the relevant license. Should such operator refrain from participating to the bidding, it will immediately have to end the experimentation, giving formal and immediate notice to the Ministry of Communications. The provisional introduction of the DCS 1800 must be done in not more than 2 cities and for a limited number of subscribers (3000 units).

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