Italy May Put Cap In Tenders For 5G Rollout

According to Reuters, Italy could limit the areas a single broadband provider can win in tenders for those places where high-speed services are offered by one operator.

The move being considered by Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao aims to promote competition, as Rome prepares to deploy almost 7 billion euros ($8 billion) of European recovery funds to expand ultra-fast connectivity, the sources told Reuters.

One option under discussion envisages a 50% cap, meaning a single bidder could not secure more than half of the single-provider areas, known as “grey areas”, one of the sources said adding the scheme was not final.

The cap is consistent with the approach of Colao, a former Vodafone CEO, in protecting competition. It would mark a U-turn from the previous government’s plan to merge the fixed line of sector incumbent Telecom Italia (TIM) with that of rival Open Fiber, with TIM owning – at least initially – a majority stake in the combined entity.

The single network project was on the cards last year when U.S. fund KKR spent 1.8 billion euros for a 37.5% stake in TIM‘s last-mile network connecting street cabinets to people’s homes.

KKR has tabled a 10.8 billion euro non-binding, cash proposal for TIM, a move which sources have said aims at protecting the U.S. fund’s investment in TIM‘s grid.

To speed up broadband rollout without harming competition, Rome introduced a measure this month forcing operators to share installation costs if working in the same area and coordinate on permit requests.

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