Telecom Italia to press ahead with rural broadband plans, defying government

Telecom Italia to press ahead with rural broadband plans, defying government

Telecom Italia (TIM) will continue with plans to roll out ultrafast broadband services in rural areas of Italy despite protests from the government, according to reports.

The Italian government has made deployment of fast internet a priority, drafting in state-owned utility Enel last year amidst claims that TIM was delaying its deployment.

Speaking to La Repubblica newspaper, group CEO Flavio Cattaneo said TIM will go ahead with its own deployment plans.

"Our investments have already started, we flagged them well in time and according to the law... we will press ahead," said Cattaneo.

TIM had originally taken partn in a Rome tender which will see subsidies given to operators deploying fibre in rural areas, but later withdrew, saying it would invest its own money.

A cabinet minister said the government will seek damages from TIM, as it had originally said it would not invest in rural areas, according to daily Corriere della Sera.

Cattaneo dismissed this, adding: “The government's attack is worthy of a 'dirigiste' state. We are a private company and in Italy companies are free to do business.”

It comes as French media company Vivendi has begun to take control of Telecom Italia. Vivendi holds a 24% stake in the Italian incumbent, but also has a 28.8% shareholding in broadcaster Mediaset.

Vivendi agreed to sell a stake in media services company Persidera to appease European regulators, but it still faces a challenge gaining approval from Italian regulato Agcom, which has told the French firm to pick between Mediaset and Telecom Italia this month.

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