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Italy taps EU for €7bn to spend on ultra-fast networks

Vittorio Colao.jpg

The European Union is to support an Italian plan to build ultra-fast networks to the tune of €7 billion, according to unconfirmed reports.

The Reuters news agency said that the money for its Recovery and Resilience Plan will come from European recovery funds.

Former Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao (pictured), who is now Italy’s minister for innovation and digital transition, is backing a plan to use a mixture of technologies, including fixed wireless access and satellite, instead of universal fibre, said the agency, citing unnamed sources. 

This may well prove to be an alternative to TIM’s plans to merge its FiberCop fibre-to-the-home network with that of Open Fiber, with an eye on becoming a monopoly fibre provider. FiberCop already includes the fibre network of Fastweb, owned by Swisscom, with investment by private equity company KKR.

TIM — formerly Telecom Italia — wants to own a majority stake in the resultant fibre company. Its share in FiberCop, which went into business two weeks ago, is 58%.

Open Fiber is owned by Enel, the national electricity company, and state investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which is also a substantial shareholder in TIM.

Colao left Vodafone in 2018 after 10 years as group CEO and an early two years of CEO of its European division. He was earlier COO and then CEO of Omnitel, the Italian mobile business later became part of Vodafone. He joined the Italian government in February 2021.