By Anne Morris
Italy’s government made more than €2 billion(US$2.2billion) available to help boost the deployment of 5G and connecting fibre networks in underserved areas, its latest move to boost access in the country.
Infratel Italia, the agency in charge of managing the two linked projects, stated the aim is to connect more than 10,000 existing mobile sites with fibre and create new 5G sites in over 2,000 areas of the country with download speeds of up to 150Mb/s and uploads of 50Mb/s.
The latest funding comes on top of the €3.7 billion announced in January to help boost deployment of 1Gb/s broadband service.
Interested parties have until 27 April to submit bids for the funding. A total of six geographic lots are up for grabs and the work must be completed by 30 June 2026. The public funding will contribute up to 90 per cent of costs incurred.
Funds will come from Italy’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, the nation’s programme under the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility which aims to mitigate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
The latest move by the government comes during a flurry of activity among Italy’s network operators as they grapple with increasingly competitive market conditions.
For example, Iliad Italia and WindTre are in talks on a network-sharing agreement for 5G deployment in remote areas of the country.
Telecom Italia is also set to explore a possible tie-up with state-backed company Open Fiber, and will start formal talks to assess a €10.8 billion non-binding offer for the group by KKR.
Vodafone Group, meanwhile, snubbed a preliminary offer by Iliad Group and private equity company Apax Partners to acquire its operation in Italy.