Unity promotes strength. However, this is often easier said than done, especially when dealing with companies that find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield that is the market. Nevertheless, Italian telecoms operators recently joined forces to submit a document to EU officials which outlines a two-part common objective:

  • the creation of a European roundtable on the crucial matter of networks; and
  • the establishment of an ideal 'zero bureaucracy' system.

The document, which was presented during the Digital Venice event organised as part of Italy's six-month EU Council presidency, contains a clear request to ensure 'digital citizenship' through the digitalisation of public administration via ad hoc legislative measures designed to simplify procedures. The intention is to overcome the delays caused by a lack of interoperability and stimulate the creation of new jobs by way of a policy that encourages the investments of operators.

In this regard, the four goals outlined by the telecoms operators involved:

  • promoting and developing infrastructure to support the well-being of consumers and economic growth;
  • ensuring digital citizenship;
  • stimulating the creation of new jobs; and
  • regulating the global challenges of the Web.

The Italian government's response has been resolute, as it recently allocated approximately €157 million in development contracts to telecoms. The 24 contracts signed by the government on July 22 2014 included:

  • a project with Telecom Italia to create a fibre-optic network in Campania, Sicily, Calabria and Puglia (totalling €93 million);
  • a project with Vodafone to upgrade the network in Puglia and Calabria (worth approximately €64 million); and
  • a project with STM (a semiconductor manufacturer) to upgrade its Catania plant.

Italy has embarked on a clear path towards digitalisation, even if there is still a long way to go. This was confirmed in the European Commission report on the state of the EU telecoms market for 2012/2013. According to the report, Italy has made some progress in achieving the European digital agenda targets for basic broadband in the past two years, but next-generation access to fixed broadband still has a penetration rate below the EU average. In terms of 30-megabits-per-second broadband penetration and next-generation coverage, Italy lags behind the rest of Europe and is progressing more slowly than other member states. According to the European Commission's report, the problem is due to both digital illiteracy (34% of Italians have never used the Internet) and the quality of existing broadband lines, which have slow speeds compared with the EU average. The situation is better with regard to mobile broadband access in Italy, which has continued to grow over the past two years – in January 2014 the penetration rate reached 66.3%, twice that of 2011 and above the EU average (61.1%).

For further information on this topic please contact Vittorio Noseda or Carlo Grignani at NCTM Studio Legale Associato by telephone (+39 02 72 5511), fax (+39 02 72 55 1501) or email (v.noseda@nctm.it or carlo.grignani@nctm.it). The NCTM Studio Legale Associato website can be accessed at www.nctm.it.