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TIM, Infratel step up fiber switch-on in response to COVID-19

Telecom Italia (TIM) intends to accelerate the switch-on of dark fiber installed by state-owned Infratel Italia in order to meet escalating demand for broadband connectivity brought about by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

TIM and Infratel Italia agreed in July 2019 to turn on public fiber infrastructure built by Infratel in 600 municipalities spread over eight regions (Abruzzo, Sardinia, Tuscany, Apulia, Calabria, Lazio, Lombardy and Marche) as part of a direct intervention by Infratel in regions not covered by commercial tenders (https://www.telecomitalia.com/tit/en/archivio/media/comunicati-stampa/telecom-italia/corporate/istituzionale/2019/CS-Infratel-TIM-30072019.html).

TIM said work has already been carried out in 241 municipalities, and is expected to increase to 310 by May 2020 with the switch-on of over 1,600 cabinets. TIM revealed it will acquire "a significant amount of dark-fibre infrastructure built by Infratel," as part of public-private efforts to bridge the digital divide in Italy. About 1 million citizens, businesses and public administrations are expected to benefit from the program.

It also seems that the number of municipalities to be covered is more than the original 600, with TIM citing 653 to be covered with fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and 15 with fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology. The operator did not divulge how much extra opex might be involved, although it would seem likely that expenditure will rise as a result. TIM recently said its domestic capex would be around €2.9 billion (US$3.1 billion) a year, and is also targeting a more rapid debt reduction to below €20 billion ($21.5 billion) by the end of 2021.

Infratel Italia is part of the state-owned Invitalia Group, and its role is to intervene in "market failure areas," through the creation and integration of broadband and ultra-broadband infrastructure.

For more on this topic, see:

— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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