TIM wins €725M of Italy's 5G funding pot

Telecom Italia (TIM) has managed to secure a sizable portion of a wider government tender to deploy 5G basestations and fiber backhaul networks in six geographic lots of the Italian countryside.

Infratel Italia, the agency in charge of managing the Italia 5G project, announced that a total of 725 million euro (US$758 million) has been awarded to TIM.

This portion of the funds is aimed at the deployment of fiber backhaul links to connect more than 11,000 basestations by June 30, 2026. The public funding will contribute up to 90% of the costs that are incurred.

The Italian operator is responsible for building the backhaul fiber links for 11,000 5G base stations in Italy.
 (Source: Arcansel/Alamy Stock Photo)
The Italian operator is responsible for building the backhaul fiber links for 11,000 5G base stations in Italy.
(Source: Arcansel/Alamy Stock Photo)

The award comes only a few months after the Italian government announced it would make more than €2 billion ($2.1 billion) available to create and link new 5G sites in over 2,000 areas of the country, with download speeds of up to 150Mbit/s and uploads of 50Mbit/s.

The funds are being provided by Italy's Recovery and Resilience Plan, the nation's program under the European Union's Recovery and Resilience Facility which aims to mitigate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The European Commission approved the scheme in April.

Traditionally underserved

Each of the six geographic lots comprises a number of areas that have traditionally been underserved with high-speed broadband services.

The largest share of TIM's grant, at €135 million ($141 million), is allocated to the lot encompassing Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia. Infratel noted it had received two offers for three of the lots, and only one offer for the other three.

The Italian government is now boasting that it will be the first country in Europe to have 5G mobile networks entirely connected by optical fiber.

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"With the assignment of the first tender for the development of 5G, we are even closer to completing the government's plan to connect all of Italy with very high-capacity networks," Vittorio Colao, minister for innovation and digital transformation, said.

Colao also claimed that the incentives "represent a unique case in Europe," pointing to the Italian government's support for the development of "cutting-edge technology" in areas where there is "no interest in investing."

In January, the government also pledged €3.7 billion ($3.9 billion) for connecting 7 million homes to gigabit-speed technology. It drew up a list of 15 regions where companies building networks can bid for access to government funds.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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