The Italian Minister for Economic Development has launched a public consultation in view of mapping private investments planned by telecommunications operators for the deployment of NGA networks across Italy in the 2013-2015 period.
As requested by the European Guidelines for the application of State aid rules in relation to rapid deployment of broadband networks, the public consultation is a preliminary step in view of defining local areas which (in the lack of private investments) will be eligible for public funding of NGA projects in the next three years.
The deployment of NGA networks represents the next stage of the Italian Broadband Plan which was set up by Law n. 69/2009 and authorized by the European Commission pursuant to Article 107(3)(c) TFEU under State aid measure SA.33807.
So far, the Italian Broadband Plan targeted areas falling within the category of basic broadband “white areas” and “grey areas”:
- in particular, the Italian authorities identified white areas as those municipal and sub-municipal areas in digital divide i.e. areas where no operators offer broadband connectivity with a minimum speed capacity of 2 Mbit/s;
- as regards the identification of grey areas the Italian authorities defined them as those municipal and sub-municipal areas where either broadband coverage was not adequate in terms of extent and users reached, or broadband services were available only to business users.
In view of bridging the digital divide in such areas, in the first stage the Italian Broadband Plan provided for three complementary initiatives:
(i) Technical Solution A, which entails the deployment under public ownership of backhaul infrastructures which are subsequently made available to all fixed and mobile broadband services providers at market conditions. The roll-out of backhaul networks has been intended as an indispensable pre-requisite for the future deployment of NGA networks;
(ii) Technical Solution B, a second complementary solution which entails the direct funding of investment projects by telecommunications operators, aimed at providing broadband services in areas suffering from digital divide through access segment deployment (last mile);
(iii) Technical Solution C, which represents an alternative to terrestrial infrastructures’ funding and will be implemented in the areas remaining still uncovered after Technical Solutions A and B will be finalized. It foresees the direct support to the end-users’ purchase of specific terminal equipment (e.g. decoders, modems, dishes, etc.) in very rural areas where infrastructural investments are either not profitable or not achievable within 31 December 2015.
As requested by the EU Guidelines, the implementation of the Italian Broadband Plan is supervised by the Italian Minister for Economic Development, which ensures the overall strategy’s compliance with EU competition and State aid rules, through Infratel, the in-house company with a pivotal role in the coordination of the projects at local level.
The outcomes of the NGA public consultation as well as any other update on the Italian Broadband strategy will be published on the following official link .