Schools and Voucher Plan
Phase II of the National Strategy, in addition to boosting infrastructure, also includes measures to support the demand for ultra-fast services in the form of vouchers, similarly to what other countries (such as the United Kingdom and Greece) have already done.
The Committee for the Spread of Ultra-Broadband, COBUL, which met on 5 May 2020, launched a plan of connectivity contributions in favour of Families, Small and Medium Enterprises, Schools, in all areas of the Country, and the Ministry of Economic Development has entrusted Infratel Italia with the resources referred to in resolutions 65/2016 and 71/2017 to start the implementation and activation of a School Plan and a Voucher Plan. Indeed, the National Strategy of the Ultra-Broadband Plan, in addition to promoting infrastructure in “white areas”, also provides measures to support the demand for ultra-fast services.
These measures provide, for the School Plan, an allocation of 400,430,897 euros that will ensure free connectivity with maintenance services for 5 years, after which, much of the fibre will still be owned by the State.
The total number of school units involved is over 32,000, and the same will be connected with Ultra-Broadband (up to 1Gbps, with 100 Mbps guaranteed). In particular, the plan provides for the connection of all middle and high school units throughout the national territory and, in “white areas”, also the connection of all primary and nursery school units.
With the exception of some regions that will be able to carry out the intervention autonomously (Emilia Romagna, Friuli, Trento Province and Umbria) or partially autonomously (Sardinia, Liguria), Infratel Italia – according to the terms imposed by COBUL – having received the mandate following the Ministerial Decree of Assignment from the Ministry of Economic Development, will publish the relevant call for tenders, to be launched in June, providing for the award and execution of the contract by September 2020 so that the first connections can be started as a matter of urgency. The object of the assignment will be the provision of the access fibre and the transport and connectivity service for the school premises, in order to allow Internet access, consisting of the following elements.
Another measure adopted by Cobul concerns the voucher plan, entrusted to Infratel Italia and aimed at families and businesses to meet their connectivity needs following the issues resulting from Covid-19 pandemic. Infratel Italia will make the platform to redeem vouchers, which is being prepared by Invitalia, available to operators, and the first measure will be launched not before 30 June 2020.
The Plan, as a whole, has a value of about 1,146,171,265 euros, and the beneficiaries are both families with an ISEE (Indicator of the Equivalent Financial Situation) below 20,000 euros, which will receive a contribution of 500 euros (200 euros for connectivity and 300 euros for Tablets or PCs on loan for use), and those with ISEE of a maximum of 50,000 euros, which will receive a contribution of 200 euros for connectivity of at least 30 Mbps.
In particular, with regard to households with ISEE of less than 20,000 euros, the measure will be launched immediately after a rapid discussion with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition that has already begun, while the other measures are subject to a public consultation procedure by June and a request for a decision on the aid scheme that is expected to be completed by September 2020.
As far as companies are concerned, the Plan provides that those that require ultra-broadband connectivity of at least 30 Mbps will benefit from a contribution of 500 euros for all technologies, including satellite, while those companies that require connectivity of at least 1 Gbps will receive a contribution of 2,000 euros.
Find out more on the website of the Ministry of Economic Development