Italy regulator urges quick action on Broadband, 4G Mobile

Italy’s telecommunications regulator Tuesday urged operators and public funds to act together to help Italy develop a fast fiber-based network, warning that failure to do so could be costly for the country’s economic growth and competitiveness as Italy still lags the rest of Europe in broadband penetration.

In the regulator’s annual speech to parliament, AGCOM Chairman Corrado Calabro called for Italy’s telecoms operators –incumbent Telecom Italia SpA (TI) and its competitors– to converge under one nationwide investment plan, which may also see a crucial contribution from state-controlled fund Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, or CdP.

“It’s time that (operators) assume clear contractual obligations that would ensure a convergence on common objectives and shared investments,” Calabro said. In this context, he added, CdP can have a key role as “a starter and booster” of investments in the ultra-broadband network.

Calabro also urged quick action to boost Italy’s coffers through auctioning new mobile spectrum for the country’s fourth generation mobile network, following in the footsteps of Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K.

4G technology will allow customers to receive and upload data faster on their mobile devices spurring a new wave of services such as high-definition mobile video.

The German auction netted EUR4.4 billion for the government last year and Calabro reiterated the Italian proceeds may be above the initial forecast of EUR2.4 billion, with all exceeding funds to be used for much-needed broadband investment.

Calabro Tuesday reiterated his warning that the current mobile network risks collapsing due to the rising popularity of smartphones and the huge increase in data traffic.

“Without an increase in available frequencies, a traffic jam will be inevitable,” Calabro said, adding that both the fixed and the mobile networks risk to face “dead ends.”

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