The CEO of the Italian fixed and mobile service provider Wind Telecomunicazioni has suggested that fibre network operator Metroweb should be transformed into an open access partnership between the government and the country’s telcos. Massimo Ibarra said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica that such a venture would help Italy meet its European Union (EU) digital agenda targets for broadband take-up.
Metroweb is currently part-owned by the state-backed holding company Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), while investment fund F2i is looking to offload its own 53.8% stake in Metroweb Holding, which in turn has an 87.7% interest in Metroweb. Another domestic broadband operator, FastWeb, holds 11% of Metroweb’s shares. Former monopoly provider Telecom Italia (TI) has been linked as a potential buyer for the F2i stake, though competition watchdog Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has said that any buyout by TI would face stringent conditions.
Ibarra commented: ‘We need to set up a vehicle that includes all the operators and the CDP, with a view to making long-term investments and benefiting from the resources that the government has decided to make available for the first time.’ Last week Vodafone also spoke out against any deal which would see TI become a major shareholder in Metroweb, suggesting that Wind, Vodafone, FastWeb and another Italian internet service provider (ISP), Tiscali, could operate Metroweb alongside CDP. Metroweb has fibre infrastructure in Milan, Genoa, Turin and Bologna, with connections to the main urban centres in northern Italy.