The Italian government is preparing a plan to deploy high speed fibre-optic networks to around seven million households. According to a report from La Repubblica, funding for the EUR7 billion (USD8.8 billion) project will come from national, regional and European Community (EC) sources, with an initial outline for the scheme to be submitted to the EC later this month. The government hopes to have a minimum 30Mbps connection available to all Italians by 2020 to help it meet European Union (EU) digital agenda targets, with around half of the population able to access 100Mbps fibre-based services by that date. Wi-Fi access points will also be deployed to support the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networks being rolled out by the country’s four cellular operators: Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Wind and 3 Italia.
With a household penetration rate of below 55% at end-June 2014, Italy now has the dubious distinction of having the region’s lowest household penetration figure, with all other countries claiming a rate of at least 60% at the same date. The country also lags the rest of Europe on broadband speeds; a July 2014 report from the EC placed Italy last amongst EU member states ranked by penetration of 30Mbps and above fixed internet services, with less than 20% of the population able to access higher speed services.