In a much-anticipated move, Iliad finally entered the fixed-line fray in Italy with the launch of a low-cost fiber plan, and a clear intention to cause further market disruption for its rival operators.
Iliad Italia CEO Benedetto Levi took to social media to announce the immediate availability of a service with download speeds of up to 5 Gbit/s and upload speeds of up to 700 Mbit/s in Bologna, Milan and Turin.
Elsewhere, speeds are capped at 1 Gbit/s/300 Mbit/s. Iliad is also providing incentives to its existing mobile subscribers by offering them an €8 discount on the €23.99 price tag. The plan includes the new iliadbox modem and a Wi-Fi extender.
Rival operators Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italia and WindTre have no doubt been bracing themselves for such a move. They have certainly had enough experience of Iliad's tactics: when the operator entered the Italian mobile market with a low-cost offer in 2018, it sparked a price war that continues to this day.
The €23.99 fiber plan compares favorably with rival fixed offerings, which range between €27 and €30 for new customers and offer download speeds of 1 Gbit/s to 2.5 Gbit/s. It remains to be seen how the established providers will respond to this latest move.
Iliad has been preparing for its fixed-line onslaught by partnering with wholesale fiber providers. For example, it pledged support for Telecom Italia's FiberCop vehicle, which is building a last-mile network grid in Italy, and has an arrangement with state-backed broadband operator Open Fiber.
Italy is now one of Europe's most fiercely competitive markets. Indeed, the long-running mobile price war has wreaked havoc on the businesses of the three older Italian networks.
Vodafone's business was the worst-performing of its numerous international units for the six months to September, suffering a 2.8% year-on-year dip in service revenues. Vodafone lost about 600,000 mobile customers over the previous 12 months.
Telecom Italia's Italian mobile revenues fell 4.5% year-on-year for the third quarter of 2021, and customer numbers have dropped by 722,000 over this period. WindTre, now wholly owned by Hutchison, lost 1.5 million customers between June 2020 and June 2021, Hutchison's accounts show. Its first-half revenues were down a tenth.
It has recently been speculated that Iliad and Vodafone are in discussions about a possible merger of their Italian operations. It seems likely that a combination would bring relief to all market players.
Iliad Italia is of course owned by Xavier Niel's Iliad Group, which brought a similar level of disruption to the French mobile market in 2012. The launch of the Italian fiber service also means that Iliad now offers fixed and mobile services in its three main markets of France, Italy and Poland.
- Vodafone, Iliad merger could revive Italian mobile – if allowed
- Iliad boasts of Q3 growth prowess
- Iliad bolsters Polish Play with UPC buy
- Xavier Niel readies for Iliad squeeze-out
— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading