Italian digital satellite platform Telepiu has reached an agreement with Telecom Italia to begin cable broadcasting in 500,000 homes in seven key cities beginning this September.

Telecom Italia is understood to have been forced into the agreement by European Union anti-trust requirements.

Measures have been underway for several years to break the cable and telephone monopoly held by Telecom Italia, which jointly owns Telepiu competitor Stream with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

"This agreement is an extraordinary achievement for our group," said Michel Thoulouze, Telepiu's chairman and managing director. He added: "it was about time that we were asked to provide this option, which until now has only been possible for users of the competing platform."

Although most Italians get their pay-TV channels via satellite, the move will significantly expand Telepiu's presence in the country. The pay-TV operator, which is fully owned by Canal Plus, has approximately 1.5 million subscribers, compared to Stream's 550,000 viewers.

According to Thoulouze, the agreement also puts Telepiu "on a par with Europe, where development of the digital television market is following the double track of cable and satellite in all countries."