Italy to invest 12 billion euros on internet

Rome, Aug 8 (IANS) Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the government will spend 12 billion euros (over $13 billion) over 20 years for ultra-speed internet.

Renzi told his centre-left Democratic Party (PD) on Friday that his objective was the complete coverage of Italy to close a large digital divide with the rest of Europe.

The investment will feature seven billion euros in public funding, including 2.1 billion euros in European regional funds, and five billion euros from private money, reported Xinhua.

The first tranche of Italian cash investments for the ultra-broadband plan, or 2.2 billion euros, will be immediately unlocked as “a first installment” through 2020.

He said the goal was to guarantee by 2020 that 85 percent of Italians have access to basic broadband.

“At this point, phone operators have nothing to do but get involved,” Renzi said. He also mentioned the announcement made earlier this week that Italian telecommunications company Wind will merge into a 50-50 joint venture with competitor 3 Italia.

“The combination of the two networks, together with significant additional investment will accelerate the availability of high-speed mobile and fixed broadband services throughout Italy,” a joint statement by Wind’s parent company VimpelCom and 3 Italia’s parent company CK Hutchison said.

The statement said with over 31 million mobile customers and 2.8 million fixed line customers, the combined business is expected to generate significant capex and opex benefits with a net present value, less integration costs, in excess of five billion euros.



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