Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the first subscribers under the government-backed national broadband project will be connected in Perugia in May. Perugia is one of five cities chosen for phase one of the rollout, along with Venice, Bari, Cagliari and Catania, with another five cities to be named later this year and a further 40 locations to follow soon after. Meanwhile, the first tenders for work to be carried out away from main population centres – less economically viable regions labelled ‘C’ and ‘D’ areas under the government’s plan – will be opened on 29 April. Speaking at a presentation of the government’s ‘Broadband Everywhere’ project, Renzi said: ‘The future has arrived in Italy.’
The government-backed utility firm Enel has committed EUR2.5 billion (USD2.8 billion) to deploy fibre infrastructure passing around 7.5 million homes in 224 cities. Its newly created ‘Enel Open Fibre’ unit will offer wholesale access to third-party service providers, and has already signed partnership deals with Vodafone and Wind; talks are still ongoing between Enel and Telecom Italia. The government’s wider EUR4.9 billion rollout plan envisages a 30Mbps connection available to all Italians by 2020, with 50% of the population able to receive a 100Mbps service.
Separately, Telecom Italia shareholder Vivendi has denied press speculation that it could lay off up to 15,000 workers due to the increased competition in the broadband sector from the likes of Enel. According to a report from Bloomberg this week, which cited ‘people familiar with the matter’, the former incumbent, which offers services under the TIM brand, was considering shedding almost 30% of its domestic workforce.