Italian ISPs plan rival to TI's fixed network

Italian operators FastWeb, Wind and Vodafone Italy are today tipped to announce a joint initiative to build a high-speed broadband network to challenge fixed-line incumbent Telecom Italia.

The plan is due to be unveiled at a press conference in Milan later today.

Sources close to the negotiations told the Wall Street Journal that the five-year project will be valued at €2.5 billion.

It will aim to build a fibre replacement to Italy's ageing copper network in 15 major Italian cities.

It will be open to participation from other operators – even Telecom Italia.

Telecom Italia – which plans to invest €7 billion in networking infrastructure as well as IT over the next three years – is not fazed by the move.

CEO Franco Bernabe this week told FT.com the operator will “respond aggressively” to competition provided by alternative fixed-line infrastructure.

While Telecom Italia has said many times it is open to the idea of shared investment in fibre infrastructure with rivals, it also opposes any relinquishing of control over its fixed-line network.

The operators involved in the project had been angered by a state decision last month to allow Telecom Italia to up its wholesale access charges.

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