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Geographical Digital Inclusion

05/13/2016 - 03:30 PM

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In order to deal with the digital divide that has arisen in the so-called marginal areas of Italy, which would otherwise remain excluded from the mainstream plans of telecommunications operators, owing to the low profitability of investments, between 2005 and December 2015, the company implemented a programme of extraordinary investments allowing ADSL coverage (gross coverage[1] > 70%) to be provided for approximately 7,700 municipalities in total (4,350 more municipalities than December 2005).

In December 2015, Telecom Italia activated 9,600 exchanges, including 8,200 optical fibre ones. Alongside its plan to extend coverage, Telecom Italia has launched an additional plan to expand the active network[2], where necessary, to guarantee full usability of the service by customers and the development of digital inclusion.

The following table shows the percentages of coverage as of December of the past three years.

Percentages of coverage

 

2015

2014

2013

ADSL coverage(*)

99.10

98.75

98.40

UMTS and HSDPA coverage(**)

96.00

96.00

87.50

LTE coverage(**)

>88.00

77.00

49.00

Next Generation Plan (fixed telephony) coverage (***)

>42.00

28.10

16.80

(*)   The percentage refers to fixed Telecom Italia telephone lines.
(**)  The percentage refers to the resident population. Coverage values are subject to change based on ISTAT and urbanisations updates.
(***)The percentage is determined by the ratio between the number of properties connected with “cabinets” reached by access optical fibres (or which can be served directly from an exchange if within acceptable distances) and the total number of properties that have or have had active telephone lines in the past.

 

 

In order to promote digital inclusion and the consequent coverage of the remaining geographical areas of "market failure", Telecom Italia cannot avoid engaging in joint "public-private" initiatives.
Two types of action have been taken so far, both fully in line with European competition rules:

  • the first is a "central" approach involving collaboration with Infratel Italia S.p.A. (Infrastrutture e Telecomunicazioni per l’Italia)[3], with the public entity building passive broadband (fibre optic cable), organic and integrated infrastructure throughout the country, with the aim of increasing digital inclusion in lower income areas of the Country;
  • the second is a "local" approach, based on collaboration with regions that promote projects aimed at increasing the digital inclusion, e.g. through forms of financing centred on public tenders using the claw-back model, which provides for contributions to be paid to offset the lack of return on investments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Official Telecom Italia Coverage data refers to the technical coverage of the telephone population (in terms of   64 kbit/s equivalent lines) gross of areas that cannot technically be served, due to the characteristics of the copper access network (presence of digital devices such as, for example, MPX, UCR or MD48, excessive distance from the exchange, etc.).
[2]
The plan consists of actions to ensure full enjoyment of the service by customers by expanding the capacity of equipment used, in terms of both user ports and bandwidth available on the Internet. The technical term for this is desaturation of DSLAM equipment, performed either in advance or once specific broadband quality and availability thresholds are exceed.
[3]
The company was set up on the initiative of the Communication Department of the Ministry of Economic Development and Invitalia, the national inward investment and business development agency, and is the entity implementing the Broadband Programme.

THE NET: EVOLUTION AND FUTURE

The 2016-2018 Three-Year Strategic Plan maintains the main goal to increase coverage of the country with next generation networks.  By the end of 2018, the targets set are to reach approximately 84% of the Italian houses with fibre optics and 98% of the population with the LTE (4G) mobile network.

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