TIM locks horns with Italian state over rural broadband

The artist formerly known as Telecom Italia has been warned not to mess with the government’s infrastructure plans but it says it will do what it wants.

According to La Repubblica, the Italian government wants to roll out publicly-funded fibre to areas of claimed ‘market failure’ – i.e. rural areas that currently have little or no good broadband access. However it looks like TIM also wants to have a go at addressing this issue, which has displeased the government.

The private partner of the state initiative is Enel Open Fiber, which won the gig at the start of this year in a bidding process that was contested by TIM as flawed – the inference being that the process wasn’t as open and even-handed as it should be. Enel Open Fiber was presumably assured it would be the only provider, which is likely to be one of the reasons for the current aggro.

TIM CEO Flavio Cattaneo also spoke to La Repubblica to accuse the government of a dirigiste approach – i.e. trying to control the private sector. This was also reported in English by Reuters, which speaks better Italian than “Our investments have already started, we flagged them well in time and according to the law… we will press ahead,” it reported Cattaneo as saying.

Apparently some cabinet minister recently said it will seek damages from TIM because the whole state fibre scheme only started due to TIM’s previously stated reluctance to invest in rural areas. If that was the case then TIM seems to be reserving the right to change its mind and may have done so to get back at the government for choosing Enel as its partner.

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