The Italian broadband network provider Open Fiber has revealed its plans to invest 6.5 billion Euros in a bid to expand its network roll out rapidly in the country. The Open Fiber wholesale-only venture of Italian utility Enel and state lender CDP is set to invest around EUR 6.5 billion and create some 15,000 jobs as part of its plans to build fiber-to-the-home networks in 250 major cities and roll out broadband cables in digital divide areas all over the country.
The CEO of Open Fiber Tommaso Pompei was revealing his company’s plans during a hearing at the Italian Senate. The company has already brought FTTH to over 1.6 million premises and has launched fiber-optic offers via its commercial partners Vodafone and Wind Tre in around 10 Italian cities. The company’s ultimate aim is to bring connect a total of 19 million households and businesses by 2022.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera also reported Pompei as saying that Open Fiber is currently negotiating a EUR 500 million bridge loan to be underwritten by Unicredit, SocGen and BNP Paribas.
Italy’s ministry for economic development (MiSE) has announced that it intends to summon executives from Telecom Italia (TIM) to discuss the group’s fiber-optic broadband plans in under-served and rural areas. In a statement, industry minister Carlo Calenda said the government had no wish to prevent or hinder TIM’s investment but that it needed to respect legal commitments and the relevant European Community legislation for broadband expansion in non-economic viable areas. If TIM’s investment lacks that legal basis “the government will act to protect the public interest, as it’s obliged to do,” said Calenda.
The statement comes after TIM CEO Flavio Cattaneo reiterated that the former incumbent is determined to press ahead with its own plans to roll out infrastructure in so-called digital divide areas in direct competition with state-subsidized systems. “Our investments have already begun, we announced them in good time and according to the law… we will go ahead,” Cattaneo told La Repubblica, adding that “the government’s attack is that of a ‘dirigiste’ state.”
The government recently awarded the first of several planned tenders to build a national fiber-optic broadband network to the Open Fiber wholesale-only venture of Italian utility Enel and state lender CDP. The same company has also reportedly submitted the highest bid in the second round of tenders after TIM withdrew and announced it was setting up a new company dedicated exclusively to the selective development of new fiber infrastructure in under-served areas of the country to compete with Open Fiber.