Advanced Television

Italy targets 50% population coverage with NGN

January 31, 2014

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Within the next three years, 50 per cent of the Italian population will have broadband access resulting from the deployment of the Next Generation Network (NGN).

Presenting a report on the future of broadband in Italy, Prime Minister Enrico Letta said that network development was a “priority for the government,” working in cooperation with the private sector so that EU 2020 goals are met. The government also recommends that EU structural funds be used to ensure a network at 30 Mbps is achieved by 2020.

Basic fixed broadband coverage is currently at around 98 per cent of the population, but 2 million lines remain problematic, partly served by fixed wireless solutions. However, the level of coverage of NGN or ultrafast broadband is among the lowest in Europe.

Italian operators have concrete plans to achieve the 50 per cent population coverage goal with FTTCab/VDSL2 technology by around 2017, supplying a bandwidth of over 30 Mbps, in line with the current Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) targets.

In detail, Telecom Italia aims to invest €1.7 billion in 2014-2016 to achieve 50 per cent coverage. Fastweb with €0.4 billion (2012-2014) aims at 20 per cent coverage in 2014, but would require an additional €1.6 billion for 50 per cent coverage in 2018. For its part, Vodafone is targeting 29 per cent coverage by the 1Q 2017.

However, the report points out that some critical issues remain to be solved. For example, there are no detailed operational plans for surpassing 50 per cent coverage of lines with broadband and ultra-wideband coverage, although some operators have preliminary plans to reach 70 per cent by 2020.

Also, current plans of operators do not foresee 100 Mbps services, despite the fact that Objective 3 of the DAE calls for 100 Mbps by 2020. If the outlined FTTCab plans of Italian operators are implemented as planned, it is reasonable to assume that in higher density areas the available bandwidth can reach about 60-70 Mbps.

Finally, the report also warns that, without a “strong, sustained and continuous commitment” of the Italian government, the objectives of DAE will not be fully achieved.

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