Connect with us

International Circuit

Italy’s network plan might find EU fund access harder, says Open Fiber chairman

A single unified broadband network favouring one operator over others would find it harder to access European recovery funds to boost internet speeds in Italy, the chairman of broadband group Open Fiber Franco Bassanini said on Wednesday.

Italy wants to merge state-backed Open Fiber, a wholesale-only infrastructure group, with the network of phone incumbent Telecom Italia TIM) TLIT.MI to create a unified operator to boost fast connectivity and avoid duplicating investments.

Open Fiber is jointly owned by state utility Enel ENEI.MI and state lender CDP which is also TIM’s second-largest investor.

Rome, which sees a single, fast broadband network as crucial to closing Italy’s digital gap with the rest of Europe, aims to use European funds to upgrade the former phone monopoly’s network from copper to fibre.

“One thing is using European recovery funds for a common broadband network available to all operators, quite another using them to favour one operator versus another,” he said, speaking at an online event.

Under a plan championed by Italy’s Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri, a new fast broadband network might initially be majority-owned by TIM, provided equal access is guaranteed for all with an ownership structure open to new players, sources have said.

CDP would emerge as a prominent investor in the new unified grid, dubbed AccessCo, into which TIM would transfer its network, linking switching centres to houses.

TIM, which is still a dominant player in the fixed retail business, has repeatedly said it wants to have a majority of any tie-up with Open Fiber while EU regulations favour the adoption of a non-vertically integrated model outside TIM’s control. Reuters

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2024 Communications Today

error: Content is protected !!