Open Fiber is extending its collaboration with Vodafone for the development in Italy of ultra-wideband connectivity services for fibre to the home (FTTH).
The agreement, which is already active in around two million households and businesses across 13 cities has been expanded to an additional 258 cities as part of the next wave of the fast broadband network rollout. This includes Clusters A and B - home to around 60% of the Italian population.
The strategic partnership, which will last until 2031, entails the progressive migration on the Open Fiber network of Vodafone customers, with the entire route from exchange to home being fibre optic. This is designed to ensure maximum performance and a speed of up to 1Gb/s to more than 9.5 million properties. The company’s 2018-2027 plan ultimately aims to bring FTTH to some 19 million homes and businesses.
At the same time, it was revealed in a report by Reuters that Open Fiber – which is jointly owned by Enel (ENEI.MI) and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti – has gained funding toward the €6.5 billion fast broadband rollout from enlisted banks. The €3.5 billion project finance deal, which was signed with BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), Societe Generale SOCG.PA and UniCredit (CRDI.MI), is to last for seven years and is expected to be finalised within the next few months.
Elisabetta Ripa, CEO of Open Fiber, commented: ‘The extension of the agreement with Vodafone to the entire perimeter of the Open Fiber plan in the market areas is a further acceleration towards the adoption of an entirely fibre-optic infrastructure and confirms the validity of our project, created to seize the opportunities offered by the Italian market, characterised by a delay in the development of broadband services.’
The move follows a recent announcement from incumbent, TIM (formerly known as Telecom Italia) that it will voluntarily separate its access network through the creation of separate legal entity, NetCo. This is to be 100 per cent controlled by TIM and the operator says it will hold its fixed infrastructure assets, including access network infrastructure, from the exchange to customers’ homes, as well as buildings, electronic equipment and IT systems (see TIM notifies Italian authority of intention to separate fixed access network).
In other developments from Open Fiber, the company recently received the FTTH Council Europe Operator Award for its contributions to the acceleration of FTTH in Europe at the FTTH 2018 conference in Valencia (see Gigaclear's Matthew Hare, Open Fiber pick up FTTH Council Awards).