Introduction – Ultra-Broadband
The Ultra-Broadband Strategic Plan aims to develop an ultra-broadband network across the entire national territory to create a public telecommunications infrastructure consistent with the objectives of the European Digital Agenda. The Ministry of Economic Development implements the measures defined for the national strategy also through its in-house company Infratel Italia S.p.A. (hereinafter “Infratel”). Infratel’s mission is to take care of the country’s infrastructure programmes, in particular with reference to the development of the ultra-broadband network and public Wi-Fi connection services within the framework of the Italian Ultra-Broadband Strategy.
This strategy aims to reduce the existing infrastructure and market gap in some areas of the country, through the creation of more favourable conditions for the integrated development of fixed and mobile telecommunications infrastructures, and represents the national framework for public initiatives to support the development of ultra-broadband networks in Italy. In these area, public intervention is considered necessary to address social and geographical inequalities generated by the lack of private initiative on the part of businesses and, thus, to allow greater social and territorial cohesion through access to the media through the ultra-broadband network.
On 3 March 2015, the Italian Government approved the Italian Strategy for Ultra-Broadband, in order to reduce the existing infrastructure and market gap, through the creation of more favourable conditions for the integrated development of fixed and mobile telecommunications infrastructures; such Strategy represents the national framework for public initiatives to support the development of ultra-broadband networks in Italy.
The first phase of implementation of the Strategy concerns the market failure areas (white areas) present throughout the national territory (State Aid notification SA.41647 (2016/N) for the White Areas Plan, approved by the European Commission with decision C(2016) 3931 final of 30 June 2016). In particular, the Italian Government has chosen to support, through national funds (FSC) and EU funds (ERDF and EAFRD, allocated by the regions to the Ministry of Economic Development on the basis of a State-Regions framework agreement) a “direct intervention” model, authorised by the European Commission under the State aid rules.
Coordination between the Ministry of Economic Development and local governments is ensured through a framework agreement executed on 11 February 2016 between the Ministry of Economic Development, the President of the Council of Ministers and the Regions.
The intervention consists in building a publicly owned network that will be made available to all operators who want to activate services to citizens and businesses.