Italy to implement broadband plan without private backing - Mobile World Live

Italy to implement broadband plan without private backing

07 JAN 2016

Italy will reportedly press ahead with its plan to build high speed internet networks in underserved areas of the country, despite failing to secure any partners for the €4 billion project.

The government announced last year it wanted to improve access to broadband across Italy, focussing on areas of the country so far shunned by operators, and said it was seeking to partner up with private firms to implement the plan.

It was hoped the project would encourage major players like Telecom Italia and Vodafone to expand their fibre offering.

Government minister Claudio De Vincenti, an undersecretary to the prime minister’s office, however told Reuters it would now go ahead with the plan through state-owned infrastructure firm Infratel, after being unable to find willing partners.

“We will get started with Infratel and gather speed,” he said. “Decisions on eventual private-public partnerships with be made at a later date.”

Italy lags behind other European countries covered by next-generation internet networks, according to latest European Union data, with only 36 per cent of households covered. This is compared to 43 per cent in France and 81 per cent in Germany.

The government’s struggles in attracting private firms to buy into the plan could be down to the large investment involved, which is likely to only generate small returns.

Both Telecom Italia and Vodafone have in the past year been linked with an acquisition of partially state owned fibre provider Metroweb, with advances so far shunned by the government, which is keen to keep the company neutral.

Vodafone and Vimpelcom’s Italian subsidiary Wind signed a letter of intent with Metroweb in June to jointly rollout fibre coverage, putting any possible takeover under major doubt.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi wants to bring broadband to almost all households in the country by 2020, as part of a wider €13 billion plan to upgrade Italy’s phone infrastructure.

According to a Reuters source, the government is planning to rent the upgraded internet networks to operators once the build out is completed, with tariffs monitored by the country’s regulator.

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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