Updated: Vodafone Italy places €1bn HSPA+ contract

In an effort to boost rural mobile broadband coverage, Vodafone Italy has awarded a contract valued at €1bn to an unnamed supplier to upgrade parts of its network to HSPA+.

The operator said the contract was designed to expand its mobile broadband coverage to reach an estimated 12 per cent of the Italian population that still does not have adequate internet access.

Vodafone's head of Italian operations, Paolo Bertoluzzo, said the company wanted to reach the 1,800 towns that lacked any form of wireless broadband access within the next four years. The company said that it was aiming to offer speeds of at least 2Mbps using HSPA+ technology.

Vodafone confirmed that it planned to provide HSPA+ coverage to 1,000 of these towns starting from next January, connecting at least one per day over the next three years.

Separately, Vodafone Italy and Huawei are collaborating on a €10 million deal to build a broadband research centre in Milan. "Huawei clearly intends to take root in the Italian market with a long-term partner," said David Wang, CEO of Huawei Italia.

Vodafone Italy recently agreed a deal with Huawei to deploy a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband access network in collaboration with FastWeb and Wind. The FTTH network aims to serve around ten million people (around 17 per cent of the population) in Italy's 15 largest cities within five years.

Correction: This story originally named Huawei as the winner of this contract. Vodafone Italy has denied this, but has declined to indicate which company (or companies) has been awarded the contract.

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