Italy approves €6 billion plan to boost broadband networks
The Italian government has approved a €6 billion plan to boost high-speed networks in the country in a bid to meet European Union targets.
The six-year initiative aims to provide 100Mbps broadband service in the most densely populated areas of the country and at least 30Mbps services for other regions.
"We are creating a plan to give our country the digital infrastructure, the digital highways like any other European country," the country’s development minister Federica Guidi told reporters.
Contrary to earlier speculative reports, the plan will not mandate operators to replace their older copper network with fibre optic cables. Operators will, however, be offered incentives to upgrade their networks.
Guidi said the government would allow companies to decide on the most appropriate technological solution. "The choice has been to leave the market, the operators to decide on the most efficient technology," he said.
In response to the announcement, Vodafone Italia chief Aldo Biso said the country urgently needed to modernise its network. "This is the first government that has the courage to set its ambitions so high," said Biso.
Under the EU's Digital Agenda, all citizens would have access to internet connections of 30Mbps by 2020, while at least 50% of households would have access to connection speeds of above 100Mbps.
Italy presently ranks 28th out of the 34 members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of fixed broadband subscriptions.