Italy must break deadlock over network project to avoid broadband delays: Minister
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy must break the deadlock over its long-delayed plan to create a unified network operator as soon as possible to avoid delaying its broadband rollout plan, the Minister of Finance said on Thursday. ‘Innovation Vittorio Colao.
Rome attempted to create a nationwide network by merging Open Fiber, a small broadband operator owned by public lender CDP and utility Enel, with the fixed network assets of the former telephone monopoly Telecom Italia (TIM).
But the plan, for which TIM and CDP reached a preliminary agreement last year, has yet to be finalized as negotiations between the parties have stalled.
The new government led by Mario Draghi has not yet clarified whether it intends to implement it and under what conditions.
“We cannot afford to be in a wait-and-see situation which risks threatening the plans and the timetable for the deployment of broadband, financed by the European recovery plan,” Colao said during a parliamentary hearing.
“We must find a solution to ensure an acceleration of the deployment activities,” said the minister, former head of the telecommunications company Vodafone. Italy’s plan was to ensure fast connectivity across the country by 2026, he added.
Industry Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said on Wednesday that Italy would review the single broadband network project planned by the previous government to make sure it was feasible.
Colao said he would work with Giorgetti and Economy Minister Daniele Franco to “break the deadlock on the project” and avoid an inefficient allocation of available EU stimulus funds to boost rapid connectivity.
He said that they were also working on other options and that strengthening 5G and radio connectivity and promoting other types of partnerships between operators were alternatives if the deadlock on the single network project continued. .
The minister said European Next Generation Loan Program funds allocated to digitization projects would be “significantly” over 40 billion euros ($ 47.7 billion).
Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Writing by Maria Pia Quaglia; Editing by Giulia Segreti and Jan Harvey