23 February 2016
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Italian fixed broadband operator Linkem is to build an ultra-broadband wireless network in Rome offering residential customers up to 400 megabits a second in a city where the alternative service is over TIM’s copper network.
The company, which is backed with €400 million funding
from two US private equity groups, already has a WiMax network
– equipped by Huawei – that delivers services
to 330,000 customers in smaller Italian cities, but for Rome it
is moving to TDD LTE technology with the network supplied by
"We identified ZTE as the most interesting partner," said
Davide Rota, CEO of Linkem. The company plans to extend its TDD
LTE network to Florence and Bologna in 2016-17 and then
"probably Milan" by the endo of 2017. Construction in Rome will
start in April, he added.
Rome is the main target, with 1.4 million households and an
existing infrastructure limited to DSL technologies over copper
– and a below-average number of fixed phone users who
can access that technology.
Subscribers will be asked to pay €24 a month for unlimited
access, said Rota. "Consumers are confused when they buy data
Jeff Libshutz, managing director of private equity fund Ramius,
and a board member of Linkem, said that, with €400 million
funding, "we have spent most of what we need". The co-investor
in the project is Leucadia, he said.
"Both Ramius and Leucadia are long-term investors. We like to
build companies. This is our largest single telecoms
investment," said Libshutz, who added that there will "maybe"
be a public offer of Linkem shares "in a year or so".