Telecom Italia Signs Broadband Test Deal with Fastweb

Reuters reports that Telecom Italia has signed an agreement with Swisscom unit Fastweb to test technologies that can bring ultra-high-speed broadband connections into Italian households using copper wires. Telecom Italia’s current investment plan is centered on upgrading its existing network and the company has been resisting calls by government officials to develop a wholly new fiber optic network.

Telecom Italia wants to exploit their capabilities to increase the speed of the network. The announcement from the operator comes when there are only two days before a Telecom Italia board meeting to approve its latest results. The board meeting will also decide whether to go ahead with talks to buy a stake in partly state-owned broadband network provider Metroweb.

Metroweb is seen as a key player in realizing a 12 billion-euro project approved by the government in March to bring super-fast internet services to 85 percent of Italy’s consumers within the next six years.

In March the Italian government had approved plans to upgrade Italy’s notoriously patchy internet infrastructure to bring it into line with European Union targets intended to expand high speed broadband networks.

While all sides acknowledge the need to upgrade Italy’s aging copper wire network, the cost of installing a completely new fiber-optic network over a short period of time has alarmed operators.

Talks concerning the government’s broadband plan and the role of Metroweb, which has also attracted interest from Vodafone, involve a wide range of issues, including technology choices, regulation, and governance.

Cassa Depositi e Presiti (CDP), who is the owner of the state’s stake in Metroweb, had rejected a proposal by Telecom Italia to gradually take over full ownership. CDP had been hoping to bring Telecom Italia on board along with other operators like Vodafone, something the former monopoly phone company is not willing to accept.

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