Single Italian broadband network is government goal, adviser says
MILAN (Reuters) – A unified ultra-fast broadband network in Italy is the government’s goal and will become a reality although there is no certainty on when that will happen, a top economic adviser to the Italian government said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Bloomberg Italy Capital Markets Forum, academic Francesco Giavazzi said the uncertainty on the timing stemmed from antitrust hurdles the project faces.
However, asked if Italy would eventually have a single network, he said “Yes, it’s the government’s goal, it will happen.”
Speaking at the same event, the chief executive of Italian state lender CDP Dario Scannapieco sided with Giavazzi, saying that duplicating investments in the telecoms network did not make sense.
CDP owns a stake of nearly 10% in Telecom Italia (TIM) and 60% in Open Fiber, which until now has been considered the broadband rival of TIM.
Italy’s previous government had pushed for a merger between Telecom Italia’s landline assets and Open Fiber to create a single broadband company. This plan, however, has been hindered by many hurdles including antitrust issues.
New Prime Minister Mario Draghi has put digital infrastructure at the heart of his agenda but the government had not clarified so far if it intended to implement the unified network project and under what terms.
Telecom Italia said earlier this month it would start formal talks with KKR to assess the U.S. fund’s potential 10.8 billion euro offer for TIM, Italy’s biggest phone group. TIM added it would continue to explore a tie-up with Open Fiber.
Asked whether there could be developments in the next couple of months over Telecom Italia, Scannapieco declined to comment.
(Reporting by Valentina Za and Francesca Landini, editing by Maria Pia Quaglia and Cynthia Osterman)