Seven leading Italian telecoms operators have agreed to join forces in order to form a new company charged with overseeing the infrastructure rollout for the country’s long-rumoured national high speed fibre-optic broadband network. In a press conference, Industry Minister Paolo Romani announced that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the operators will see them create a new company to monitor construction issues – notably the avoidance of duplicate installations – whilst coordinating investments from the seven operators involved. The companies in question are Telecom Italia, FastWeb, Wind, Vodafone Italia, Tiscali, BT Italia and 3 Italia. The new company will have an executive committee chaired by the Industry Minister, and will include one representative from each of the seven telecoms operators.
Additionally, Romani confirmed that the new company will be open to involvement from both public and private entities. Further, the state-controlled fund Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CdP) will provide the company’s capital and loans. However, it has emerged that the operators have yet to reach an agreement over the more contentious issue of how a national fibre-optic network would actually be managed. Earlier this year alternative telecoms operators FastWeb, Vodafone Italia and Wind proposed rolling out a EUR2.5 billion fibre-optic network, but the plan hit a stumbling block when Telecom Italia – the country’s largest operator – rejected the idea of a network run by multiple players. Of the new arrangement, Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe has indicated that it will take three months to draw up the business plan for the new body, suggesting that each operator is free to decide whether to take part in the project at the end of the three month period.