Telecom Italia reportedly began exploring the transfer of almost half its workforce into a new fixed network company set to emerge under a plan by CEO Pietro Labriola to separate the Italian operator into two units.

Reuters reported around 21,000 people are expected to move into the new NetCo, which will comprise Telecom Italia’s domestic fixed access and wholesale businesses, and international submarine cable unit Sparkle.

The operator currently has around 42,500 staff.

Telecom Italia CEO Pietro Labriola is to reveal more details about the restructuring plan at the operator’s capital market day on 7 July.

The proposed separation of fixed infrastructure assets from services operations also paves the way for a previously mooted merger of Telecom Italia’s fixed network assets with those of Open Fiber to create a single fixed network operator in Italy.

Open Fiber CEO Mario Rossetti recently indicated a deal to create a single fixed network operator could be reached later this year.

In May, Telecom Italia signed a preliminary agreement on the matter with state lender CDP, which owns 60 per cent of Open Fiber.