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Italy awards final set of rural 5G contracts

Back in March, Infratel, an agency within Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development, announced that it would launch two major tenders, one aimed at deploying 5G sites in 2,000 underserved areas of the country, the other at connecting around 10,000 existing mobile sites with fibre.

The contracts were worth a combined €2 billion, derived from the government’s post-pandemic National Recovery and Resilience Plan, with Infratel saying that the funding should cover up to 90% of the operators’ deployment costs.

Both deployment goals were targeted for completion by the end of June 2026.

Bids for the contracts could be submitted until the end of April, but the project ran aground when the €950 million contract offered for the 5G site deployment received no interest from the nation’s operators, which claimed the 2,000-area coverage target was too ambitious.

As a result, the government scaled back the tender by roughly 40%, offering €567 million for the operators to cover around 1,200 so-called ‘white’ areas, i.e., areas deemed not commercially viable by operators to deploy 5G.

Now, it appears that the adjustment has been successful, with a consortium comprising INWIT, Vodafone Italia, and TIM this week winning a further reduced €345.7 million contract, pledging to cover all six regional lots presented with 5G services offering speeds of at least 150 Mbps download and 30 Mbps upload by 2026.

For TIM, this announcement marks their second bite of government funding, having already won the other €725 million tender earlier this month, therefore committing to deploy fibre to the 10,000 mobile sites by 2026.

In total, the Italian government has now provided over €5.5 billion in public and private funding for connectivity projects as part of its national broadband strategy, having already committed €3.7 billion allocated for the 1Giga initiative aimed at rolling out fibre broadband to 7 million homes across the country.

“In 13 months we approved the Italian strategy, obtained European approvals, published and assigned all the PNRR calls for total investment of around €5.5 billion, with the ambitious goal of connecting all of Italy by 2026 with very high-speed fixed and mobile networks,” said Vittorio Colao, Italian Minister for Technological Innovation. Total Telecom

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