The national plan for ultra-fast broadband is proceeding, albeit at the slow pace typical of many important Italian infrastructure projects. The plan includes various steps and aims to guarantee that 85% of citizens will have access to 100 megabytes per second (Mbps) broadband by 2020, and that 100% of the population will have access to 30 Mbps broadband by the same date.

Funding

Infratel – the Ministry of Economic Development's in-house company tasked with implementing the government's broadband and ultra-wideband plans – will call for tenders to build networks in 'areas of market failure' (ie, where there is no market interest in investment). A figure of €2.2 billion has been allocated to the Development and Cohesion Fund for high-priority investment,(1) and medium and small operators will be allowed to use a pay-per-use model for fibre-optic broadband.

The Inter-departmental Committee for Economic Planning may approve a further €1.3 billion for the Development and Cohesion Fund and an additional €1.4 billion may be granted for the ultra-fast broadband plan through regulatory measures, meaning that overall resources will total €4.9 billion.

The committee has stated that:

  • these funds will be invested in market failure areas only, which will affect 35% of the population;
  • €1.3 billion will be allocated to calls for tenders in 'black areas' – that is, areas in which two competing service providers operate; and
  • €1.4 billion will be allocated in vouchers to foster demand.

Therefore, the available funding will be immediately invested in areas and for tender notices that meet EU requirements.

Incentives

The plan includes:

  • subsidies to foster private investment in market failure areas;
  • vouchers for end users;
  • tax credits for infrastructural works;
  • public warranties on stipulated loans and project obligations to finance investments;
  • state intervention to create next-generation access connections where private parties are unwilling to invest; and
  • public-private partnerships (PPP) to co-invest in access facilities.

Approximately 50% of the allocated resources will be invested in Clusters A and B. The latest version of the plans provide that investors will receive no public contribution for investments in Cluster A – which includes Italy's 15 most populous cities and main industrial areas. Instead, public intervention in Cluster A will aim to foster demand in ultra-fast broadband through the allocation of vouchers for end users.

Private investment will be encouraged in Cluster B – which includes 1,122 towns and cities and 47% of the national population, who already have access to a 30 Mbps broadband network – through PPP and public incentives of up to 70% of the value of a private investment.

Cluster C already has a broadband network with a capacity of less than 30 Mbps and private enterprise will be encouraged to invest in ultra-fast broadband through subsidies, PPP and vouchers for end users.

State intervention to create public facilities and tax exemptions are planned for Cluster D, which includes 4,300 municipalities and 15% of the national population.

For further information on this topic please contact Vittorio Noseda or Carlo Grignani at NCTM Studio Legale Associato by telephone (+39 02 72 5511) or email (v.noseda@nctm.it or carlo.grignani@nctm.it). The NCTM Studio Legale Associato website can be accessed at www.nctm.it.

Endnotes

(1) FSC, 2014-2020.

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