Eleven months behind most of the other countries of the European Union, Spain officially opened its domestic telecommunications market to competition on December 1. The reason for the delay was largely that Spain had been granted extra time by the European Commission to adapt a sector that had been under the monopoly hold of Telefonica for 74 years. Telefonica was privatised at the beginning of 1997 and the transition period until the end of November 1998 gave the Government in Madrid a chance to lay the foundations for a deregulated market by launching tenders for new entrants and granting licences to two other fixed telphony operators. Retevision, which is 70% owned by the electricity group Endesa, and the Italian telecoms company Stet, were given a slice of the Spanish telecommunications market and started to provide their services at the beginning of...

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