The Italian government is meeting in Rome today (21 January) to look into a €4 billion, six-year programme to encourage phone companies, including Vodafone and Telecom Italia, to expand their high-speed fibre-optic networks, Bloomberg has reported.
Vodafone, which is making a big play in Italy with its fixed-mobile strategy, and Telecom Italia could benefit from the programme as they seek to address growing capacity demands.
Around €2 billion of the €4 billion will probably be used for network expansion in rural areas.
The numbers are provisional since it is possible that an additional €2.4 billion could be drawn from European regional development funds.
In December, it was reported that a leaked letter to Italy’s antitrust regulator and a statement from Swisscom’s CEO could both push forward Vodafone’s designs on the Italian fixed market.
According to Reuters, Vodafone had warned Italy’s competition regulator against fixed incumbent Telecom Italia (TI) buying Metroweb, which runs a fibre network in Milan.
As an alternative to an incumbent buy, all the country’s so-called other licensed operators (OLOs) should be allowed to jointly own Metroweb, Vodafone had recommended in a letter.
Vodafone was also thought to be interested in Fastweb, which runs fibre networks in a number of leading Italian cities.