Further to several consumer complaints concerning the unjustified charge by Telecom Italia S.p.A. (the Italian incumbent provider for telecommunication services) of telephone calls and/or internet connections to satellite numbers managed by Elsacom S.p.A. and premium rate non-geographic numbers (such as 199, 178, 899, 892) which the consumers claimed they had not made, the Italian Competition Authority initiated on 7 February 2008 investigation proceedings against Telecom Italia, Elsacom and the owners of non-geographic numbers involved (CSINFO S.p.A., Eutelia S.p.A., Karupa S.p.A., Voiceplus S.r.l. and Teleunit S.p.A.).
On 7 May 2008 the Italian Competition Authority decided to extend the investigation proceedings to the following companies: Drin TV S.r.l., AbcTrade S.r.l., Telegest Italia S.r.l., Aurora Uno Sro, OT&T S.r.l. Ivory Network Limited, and PLUS Production film di Lucci Andrea, in their quality of assignees companies for the involved satellite and non-geographic numbers.
The Authority deemed it appropriate to adopt interim measures, and ordered Telecom Italia to cease the practice of cutting off the telephone lines of customers for non-payment of the such calls.
The investigation conducted by the Italian Competition Authority ascertained that the billing of these calls was the result of companies other than Telecom Italia having installed diallers on the subscriber hardware, without their knowledge, while they were surfing the Internet. (Note: diallers are programmes managed by small companies, and used as a means of gaining access to premium rate services or services using premium rate call charges, which can also automatically re-programme the subscribers computers when used later to access the Internet, as a result of which calls are made without being specifically requested by the user.)
As the practice had been carried out by using telephone and internet, the opinion of the Italian Communication Authority was requested on 16 September 2008.