ROME, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Italy plans to cap the number of
lots a broadband provider or a consortium of operators can win
in public tenders to expand ultra-fast connectivity across the
country, three sources close to the matter told Reuters.
The government is preparing to divide the areas put out to
tender into 15 lots and wants to prevent a single bidder from
winning more than eight of them, the sources said, cautioning
that the terms were not yet finalised.
Rome will deploy 3.8 billion euros ($4.36 billion) of
European Union recovery funds to ensure the whole of the country
can access 1 gigabyte per second fixed Internet connectivity by
The programme is part of government efforts to develop
Italy's digital economy, which lags those of its major European
European Union authorities informally urged Italy to set a
50% cap on broadband lots that can be assigned to single firms
or consortiums to ensure competition is preserved, Reuters
reported in November.
The idea of a cap is consistent with the line favoured by
Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao, a former Vodafone
CEO, who has said protecting competition is the best way to
promote ultra fast fibre rollout.
Colao's office said it planned to publish the call for
tenders by the end of January, and the sources told Reuters they
may be issued as soon as Friday. Rome plans to award the
contracts by June.
The funding scheme aims to cover about 7 million homes where
no broadband operator offers or plans to offer download
connectivity of at least 300 Megabits per second.
The tender process comes as Italy's telecoms sector is in
flux due to a proposal by U.S. private equity giant KKR
to take over Telecom Italia (TIM).
($1 = 0.8724 euros)
(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Elvira Pollina, editing by
Gavin Jones, Kirsten Donovan)