Telecom Italia has confirmed that it is still exploring the possibility of merging with Italian fibre network provider, Open Fiber.
The pair have been in discussions over the possibility of combining their fibre to the home networks since June 2019, with Italy’s government publically stating that it would prefer a single operator to provide the country’s fibre optic networks.
"We are working to set the conditions in order to create a single player to distribute internet and broadband," Italy's deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, was quoted as saying, late last year.
Speaking at an industry event on Wednesday, Telecom Italia CEO, Luigi Gubitosi, said that talks with Open Fiber were still ongoing but that “in life there is always a plan B”.
Open Fiber is joint owned by Italian utility provider Enel and prominent Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. In order for the merger to go ahead, Telecom Italia would prospectively need to buy out Enel’s stake in the company. In order to do this, it needs to attract additional investment from the private sector in order to purchase the stake. Contrary to reports that Telecom Italia was having difficulty attracting investors, Gubitosi said that investors were showing a healthy interest in the opportunity.
“Funds have shown an interest in investing, even at valuations that could appear aggressive”, news agency Reuters quoted him as saying.
A recent report ranked Italy in 41st place for its average broadband speeds, with an average download speed of 15.1Mbps, considerably slower than world leaders Singapore (60.39Mbps) and European leaders Sweden (46.0Mbps).