Italian single-network proposal possible, as EU assesses network burden

Italian innovation minister Vittorio Colao, wearing a suit and blue tie

Italy’s largest telco operators could be combined to form one network, subject to competition law, under proposals expected to be finalised within weeks.

At the Ambrosetti business forum, the Italian innovation minister and former Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao suggested that Telecom Italia and its rival Open Fiber could be merged to strengthen the country’s telecommunications network. He noted that the networks in Italy are, as throughout Europe, in need of innovation


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Telecom Italia is currently €24.6 billion in debt, and entered talks with state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), currently in control of Open Fiber, in May. As part of the deal, Telecom Italia is expected to sell off its existing network infrastructure.

"What we're keen on is a national telecoms infrastructure ensuring great performance and quality," Reuters reports Calao as having asserted to reporters.

Far-right party Brothers of Italy, which is leading in polls ahead of Italy’s September 25 election, has made clear that it is opposed to an outright merger, calling instead for the nationalisation of Telecom Italia. "We need a different scheme that protects TIM's workers, with CDP holding a majority and controlling stake to secure the Italian network management," said Brothers of Italy telecoms policymaker Alessio Butti in a statement.

"We are strongly against the plan to sell TIM's landline grid."

The plans come amidst growing pressure within the EU to improve network infrastructure. Last month, Italy, France, and Spain made a joint plea for the EU to consider proposals that would require tech giants such as Meta, Google and Netflix to help pay for network maintenance. According to Reuters, the three countries produced a paper stating that 55% of internet traffic is a result of just the top six of these content providers.

This came off the back of months of similar calls, with a group of telecom operators releasing a joint statement in February demanding that streaming services contribute to infrastructure costs.

Earlier this year, the EU announced plans to enter the growing satellite broadband sector, to launch a constellation labelled the EU Space-Based Security Connectivity System to provide continent-wide internet coverage. Beyond 5G, European roll out of 6G is expected to come in 2030, with Nokia leading development of the technology in Germany in the government-funded 6G-ANNA project.

Meanwhile, UK telcos could soon face fines of up to £100,000 per day for sub-par network security, as the government looks to pass additional legislation within the Telecommunications Security Act to empower Ofcom's enforcement capabilities.

Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at or on LinkedIn.