High-tech enterprises – particularly in the telecommunications sector – have remained relatively stable throughout the ongoing economic crisis; due to its emphasis on innovation, the sector has recorded largely steady growth in recent years. However, despite the encouraging figures concerning the number of transactions concluded, this should be viewed within the context of a static market that has seen very few transactions at all. According to research, the high-tech industry has grown by 90% in recent years, with significant developments in, among other things, the market for smartphone applications, downloads of which have doubled.

The Digital Agenda Scorecard, a European Commission report, shows that in 2012 Italy was the leader among the European Union's top five countries for telecommunications investment (for further details please see "Decreto Sviluppo 2.0: a boost for telecoms start-ups"). Although the broadband penetration rate in Italy last year was 22.2% of the population – compared to the EU average of 27.7% – 8.2% of these broadband lines provided speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps), while 90% ranged from 2 to 10 Mbps (against the EU average of 43.4%). Moreover, mobile broadband accounted for 31.3% of this rate, against the EU average of around 20%.

In a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, Franco Bernabè, chairman of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association, said that "[i]t is not only critical that we acquire additional spectrum, but we must focus on reducing the fragmentation across technologies and bands".

Technological evolution in the information and communications technology sector has influenced many governments to increase investment in the sector. The European Commission has also played a part in this thrust in new technology investment: in February 2012 it allocated €50 million for research in 5G mobile technology, with the objective of achieving widespread development in mobile technologies by 2020.

In the market for investments in risk capital, 2012 also saw growth in the attention given to high-tech industries. However, before investing in an enterprise active in a high-tech sector such as telecommunications, it is important to carry out research into:

  • customers;
  • the services provided;
  • market competitors; and
  • infrastructure.

The market for telecommunications and new technologies has always been volatile and subject to sudden changes, so before investing capital, it is important to carry out a detailed analysis of both the standing of the business in question and the market forecast for the coming years.

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).

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