The announcement of Fastweb and Telecom Italia of a joint investment plan in a FTTC network relates to a series of similar announcements by major Italian operators.
According to the press release, Fastweb plans to contribute 400 million euros in this project. Telecom Italia sees this as part of its longer-term strategy to offer 100Mbps in 100 cities across the country. The Italian telco has already inked deals with other fixed-line operators within this long-term investment plan.
The first time Italian broadband was in the center of the industry’s spotlights was back in the early 2000s when Fastweb was deploying its vast fiber access network in Milan. Today, Italy may become again a showcase for fiber enabled broadband access. An increasing number of local players endorses some of the core recommendations of the European Commission for accelerating FTTP rollouts and chooses to co-invest in the access network with former competitors and current “coopetitors”.
Whether these plans develop as planned is a big question mark. In the past, regulation, mostly, and competitive responses has often entangled with the announcements and intentions of the Italian operators.
On a final note, the strategy of Telecom Italia stretches beyond its FTTC co-investment plans. Last week, Telecom Italia COO Marco Patuano expressed the intention to consider a separation of the access and service business of the Italian incumbent. That is surely something to keep an eye on in the future. If it materializes it will be the second similar case after UK’s BT.