The European Commission (EC) has approved the Italian government’s plan to use EUR4 billion (USD4.5 billion) of state funds to roll out broadband internet infrastructure in unserved areas of the country, without unduly distorting competition. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: ‘The broadband scheme will bring faster internet to Italian consumers and businesses. It will help Italy to build the necessary infrastructure and contribute to creating a connected Digital Single Market in the EU.’
Italy’s government is looking to deploy networks only in areas that have no access to broadband services and will not be covered in the next three years. It says that 26% of households would be unable to connect to a network with data transfer speeds above 30Mbps in 2018 in the absence of public intervention. The state will supply the funds for the rollout and choose a company to run the network, with the infrastructure remaining under public ownership. End-user services will be offered by retail service providers who will lease space on the networks on an open access basis. The scheme will run until the end of 2022 and will complement efforts by telcos to improve broadband infrastructure in areas already covered by such services, with the government looking for 85% of households and businesses to be passed by at least a 100Mbps service by 2020.