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.
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.
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 ([email protected] or [email protected]). The NCTM Studio Legale Associato website can be accessed at www.nctm.it.
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