Italy's Wind to sign up to Milan fibre network

The chief executive of Italy’s No. 2 fixed-line telecom operator Wind Telecommunicazioni SpA said Friday that he will sign up to MetroWeb SpA’s fledgling fiberoptic network in Milan in a first step to rolling out superfast Internet access for Wind customers across Italy’s biggest cities by 2014.

Italy’s third operator, Vodafone Italia, will also sign up, people close to that company said, leaving former monopoly Telecom Italia with few backers among telecom operators for its separate network upgrade scheme.

Telecom Italia signed a deal in September to build a superfast network with internet services provider Fastweb. Eventually Telecom Italia needs to be part of the fiberoptic plan, which will deliver speeds of up to 100Mb a second for Italian businesses and consumers, Wind CEO Maximo Ibarra said Friday.

Delays in delivering fast broadband speeds are crippling the country’s businesses, Mr. Ibarra said.

“If we don’t do the rollout quickly, there’s a risk for the country as a whole. I think that we can't wait more than 18 months maximum to do this,” Mr. Ibarra said on the sidelines of the Capri telecom conference.

MetroWeb has begun rolling out fiberoptics in Milan and plans to cover 30 cities by 2014.

Telecom Italia has pursued a separate path, planning an upgrade of its network that will deliver download speeds of around 30Mb a second–much slower than the MetroWeb plan.

MetroWeb Chief Executive Alberto Trondoli said he expects both Wind and Vodafone Italia to sign up in the next two weeks.

By using Metroweb, the two companies will be able to offer superfast broadband of up to 100Mb a second.

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