The government of Italy has said it is unhappy with Telecom Italia’s plans to push ahead with the rollout of fibre-optic networks which will compete with publicly-funded infrastructure in underserved areas of the country. The telco is rolling out fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) networks in so-called ‘white’ areas, which are not currently covered by high-speed fixed networks. Reuters reports, however, that the government may claim damages from the operator after it opened tenders for the deployment of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) systems.
The first of these tenders – covering six Italian regions – was won by Enel subsidiary Open Fiber, with recent reports suggesting that the same firm will also win the second group of contracts, covering more than 3,700 communities in ten regions. A third tender, covering three regions, is still to be held. Telecom Italia took part in the first tender process but complained that the terms were unfair and said it would move ahead with its own separate deployment instead.
While the government is angered by Telecom Italia’s decision to roll out infrastructure which will compete with the state-subsidised systems, the telco is unrepentant; chief executive Flavio Cattaneo told La Repubblica: ‘Our investments have already started, we flagged them well in time and according to the law … we will press ahead.’ He added: ‘The government’s attack is worthy of a ‘dirigiste’ state (an economic system where the state exerts a strong directive influence over investment). We are a private company and in Italy companies are free to do business.’