December 22, 2020
Italy may be dashing closer to having a national broadband operator open to all providers, but there's just one more regulatory hurdle in Rome to surmount.
In a journey with more twists than fusilli, Italy's competition authority said Telecom Italia's FiberCop last-mile network grid was a "strategic objective" for Italy and the regulator wanted to be assured there was "healthy, dynamic competition."
The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) said it would investigate agreements around creating the FiberCop network, and supply agreements with Fastweb and Tiscali.
Reaching the promised LAN
FiberCop is a joint venture which holds Telecom Italia's fixed network's assets, alongside those of Flash Fiber, a joint venture between Telecom Italia and a smaller operator Fastweb (owned by Swisscom).
Italy's government has long been keen to create a single national broadband operator which is open to all operators, by mashing together these assets with the fast-fiber infrastructure of Italy's fast wholesale broadband operator Open Fiber.
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Light Reading. The resulting big telco will be called AccessCo, and it seems probable to pass muster with regulators in Rome and Brussels, it will need to be pretty independent of Telecom Italia. In the latest step in this journey, Macquarie is acquiring a stake of between 40% and 50% of Open Fiber from Italian energy giant Enel. Turin-based Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) holds the remaining stake, and Macquarie is now expected to transfer some of its Open Fiber holding into this growing FiberCop joint venture. Though Telecom Italia currently owns 100% of FiberCop, the idea is that private equity firm KKR will acquire a 37.5% stake, and Fastweb a smaller 4.5% holding, according to the AGCM. It's a journey with more twists and tangles than rotini pasta, but if Italy's regulator can unwind it, chances are it will pass muster in Brussels, too. Related posts: Italy closer to having national broadband operator EU could oppose Italy's single fiber network plan – report Vodafone CEO slams Italy's single fiber network plans Telecom Italia on track to create single fiber network Telecom Italia desperate to control Italy's only fiber network Telecom Italia crumbles like a Roman ruin Telecom Italia warns of steeper revenue decline amid COVID-19 — Pádraig Belton, contributing editor special to Light Reading
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