The announcement was made earlier by the Italian communications minister, Maurizio Gasparri, during a visit to a business news archive in Rome. An extension to 20 years is "plausible," Gasparri told Italian news agencies.
"The extension of the licences, a request that operators have put to us, is a practicable choice," Gasparri said. "We decided on it in the last few hours."
"At present, mobile phone operators, who in many cases are the same in different countries, find themselves operating in markets where the UMTS licences were bought at very different prices," Gasparri said.
Gasparri told reporters that he intends to raise the issue of the harmonisation of economic conditions in the UMTS market across Europe when he meets European Union communications ministers in Brussels on 6 December.