The Italian government could be set to withdraw support for a plan formulated by its predecessor to merge the fixed assets of Telecom Italia (TIM) with wholesale operator Open Fiber. Bloomberg cites an unnamed government official as saying that Prime Minister Mario Draghi now favours a state-subsidised broadband network rollout carried out via a series of competitive tenders under which winning bidders will be granted funding to deploy open access infrastructure for use by third-party service providers. Italy’s recovery plan has set aside EUR6.7 billion (USD8 billion) for the development of ultra-broadband networks.
The report suggests that the current government is against the TIM-Open Fiber merger plan as it would have a negative impact on competition by allowing TIM to take control of Open Fiber’s infrastructure.
TIM has responded to the rumours by saying it will file a complaint with markets regulator Consob, claiming that ‘the interpretations reported by the press … are entirely inappropriate and unsubstantiated’. It adds that ‘the relationship between the aforementioned plan and possible aggregations of companies currently operating in the sector is not understood given that, as mentioned several times by government representatives, these aggregations are included among market operations exclusively subject to the will of the companies involved and their shareholders’.