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Research by Country/Region January 22, 2018  
Italy: Broadband Fixed Wireless Access

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A. CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICY GOVERNING ACCESS TO THE WORLDWIDE FIXED WIRELESS ACCESS BAND (3.4 TO 3.7 GHZ), LMDS (28 TO31 GHZ), AND UNLICENSED BANDS

On July 8, 2002, Italy introduced a National Plan for Frequencies (Government Gazette 169, Supplement 14, July 20, 2002 – see also Ministry of Communications website: http://www.comunicazioni.it) covering bands 0 to 1000 Ghz.

Significant developments following the introduction of the Plan were the assignment of frequencies, and the award of individual licenses for broadband radio networks point to multipoint in band 24,55-26,5 and 27,5-29,5 Ghz, which effectively liberalized (“unbundled”) the Wireless Local Loop and, most recently, a ministerial decree issued in February 2003 which opens access to Wi-Fi for public and private use through bands 2,4 and 5 Ghz.
    The development and expansion of broadband is a key goal for the Italian Government. Italy’s “Document of Economic and Financial Policy for the Year 2002”(http://www.governo.it/fsi) stated that one of the Italian Government’s priorities for the 2002-2006 period was to invest in the digital society and to provide access to the information society. A plan is underway which includes public funding of nearly one billion euros over five years for public demand/use. The eventual aim of the government’s efforts is to have broadband coverage for 85-90 percent of public administration, 65 percent of business and 35 percent of households. (Broadband penetration in the government is expected to grow from the current level of 20 percent to 90 percent by 2005.) Industry will benefit from tax incentives on investments made in e-commerce solutions.

    Italy has set up a joint Ministry of Communications/Ministry for Innovation and Technology Task Force to investigate the status of broadband technology in Italy and to make recommendations for its development. The Task Force report is available, in English, in the Ministry of Innovations’ website: http://www.innovazione.gov.it/broadband.
      B. DEMAND OR NEED FOR BFW (BROADBAND FIXED WIRELESS) SERVICES

      The value of the market in Italy for telecommunications services continues to grow steadily, but the growth rate decreased in 2002 for the second year in a row. A breakdown by sub-sectors reveals that most of the growth in 2002 and 2003 is due to wireless communications, which continues to grow faster than fixed services. By 2003, the value of wireless communications in Italy is expected to exceed the value of fixed services for the first time, even though the wireless growth rate is expected to decrease from 11 percent in 2002 to 9 percent in 2003. However, rapid growth in the value of Internet and online services, value-added services, and cable TV services is expected to more than offset a steady decline in the value of fixed telephone services.

      According to “The Development of Broadband Access in OECD Countries” report of October 2001, Italy had the 12th highest penetration in broadband in the European Union – 0.44 connections per 100 inhabitants. A survey published in December 2002 found that, although progress had been made, broadband penetration in Italy was still very low: around 110,000, or 30percent of companies, connect to the Internet using fiber optic cable or xDSL. The potential business market is huge, since around 267,000 companies and institutions have yet to switch to broadband. Household penetration is even lower:
      by the end of March 2002, Italy had connected broadband to 1.7 percent of households.

      DSL is Italy’s main technology for broadband Internet access, accounting for 84 percent of broadband subscribers, because neither cable TV operators nor satellite service providers have provided significant competition. The only complete national broadband infrastructure consists of Telecom Italia’s own network, and, accordingly, it is the chief provider of DSL services. Furthermore, Telecom Italia (TI) reportedly plans to invest 6.7 billion euros in domestic network development over the next three years, including 800 million euros for DSL alone. Deployment in Italy is increasing due to TI’s ambitious roll-out plans, recent decreases in prices for ADSL, and growing competition by competitive providers of DSL.

      Sixteen percent of broadband subscribers in Italy uses alternative technologies besides DSL, primarily fiber optical cables, satellites and leased lines.

      The other leading broadband platform deployed in Italy is satellites, which are used primarily for television broadcasting but also offer broadband Internet access. There are some 60,000 asymmetric broadband Internet access connections in Italy via satellite.


      C. LICENSING
      Decree of the Ministry of Communications No. 318 of September 19, 1997, provides for two types of operating licenses: individual licenses and general authorizations. Of the two, “individual licenses” have stricter prerequisites and are required for the provision of voice transmission services (both fixed network and mobile), for the construction and operation of publicly accessible telecommunications networks, access to and use of radio frequencies, provision of mobile and personal services, those actions and services that use resources considered to be scarce or that are subject to particular obligations, and for services provided on a national scale by companies with significant market forces.

      “General authorizations” will be issued for other acts and services, such as data transmission services, construction and operation of closed user group networks, and value added services.

      Since March 2001, the Ministry of Communications is in charge of answering inquiries, receiving applications and issuing licenses.
      Contact: Dott.ssa Laura Aria
      Direzione Generale Concessioni e Autorizzazioni
      Ministero delle Comunicazioni
      Viale Europa 201
      00144 Rome, Italy

      Further information, including application forms, are available from the Ministry’s website: http://www.comunicazioni/normativa/it.

      D. FOREIGN OWNERSHIP LIMITS
        In order to obtain an individual license for the provision to the public of telecommunications services/networks (see Item C.) , the applicant corporation must have its registered office in either Italy, a member state of the European Union, or a signatory state of the World Trade Organization. Moreover, control of the applicant corporation must be held only by a person or persons with Italian or European Union citizenship, or that of a country, which gives Italy reciprocal rights.

        Similar requirements apply to applications for general authorizations but no mention is made in the regulations of requirements for the owner of a corporate applicant.

        E. ARE THERE STANDARD TARIFFS GOVERNING BFW INTERCONNECTION WITH LOCAL TELCOS, OR MUST BWF SERVICE PROVIDERS NEGOTIATE SEPARATELY WITH NETWORK OPERATORS?

        There are no standard tariffs governing BFW interconnection with local telecommunications companies. Service providers must negotiate separately with network operators. (See “5.5 Pricing”. page 35 of the Ministry of Communications/Ministry for Innovation and Technology Task Force Report, Item A.)

        F. OTHER POLICIES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING BWF

        There are no other policies and regulations governing BWF.


        G. TO WHAT EXTENT ARE BWF SERVICES BEING OFFERED BY DOMESTIC OR INTERNATIONAL FIRMS?

        Despite increasing competition, the Italian telecommunications market continues to be dominated by Telecom Italia S.p.A., the former state-owned monopoly.

        The only complete national broadband infrastructure consists of Telecom Italia’s own network, and accordingly, it is the chief provider of DSL.

        Backbone network capacity is a priority in Italy, with many operators developing networks. The main backbone providers include:
        - Telecom Italia
        - Nautilus/Med1 (51% owned by Telecom Italia)
        - Wind
        - Tiscali
        - Albacom
        - Fastweb
        - Atlanet
        - Global Crossing (US)
        - Colt (UK).

        International links to most Pan-European backbone operators have been available from:
        - Cable and Wireless (UK) – Rome and Milan
        - Carrier 1 (Luxembourg) - Rome, in a loop with Paris, Zurich and Geneva
        - Colt (UK) – Milan, Rome and Turin
        - KPNQwest (Netherlands) – Milan and Turin
        - MCI Worldcom (US) – Milan connected to Ulysses network
        - BT/Farland (UK) – connected with Albacom network
        - Global Crossing (US) – Milan and Turin.

        Service Providers:
        Telecom Italia controls the local loop and therefore access to DSL services. At the end of June 2002, Telecom Italia had 585,000 ADSL subscribers. The company’s ADSL service is now available to over 1,300 towns and to 74 percent of Internet users.

        The Italian competition regulator ruled in December 1999 that Telecom Italia could offer its own retail ADSL product wholesale to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other potential service providers. Manneman’s Infostrada (now Wind) was the first to take up the wholesale offer and provide alternative services over Telecom Italia’s infrastructure in 11 cities. KPNQwest bought the independent ADSL company Comm2000 in 1999. Cable & Wireless purchased Unidata in 2001, owner of its own ADSL network.

        Some operators to offer services in 2001 were:
        - Wind
        - Albacom
        - Tiscali.


        H. CURRENT LIST OF BFW ACCESS PROVIDERS

        The Ministry of Communications website (http://www.comunicazioni.it/licenze) has a current listing of telecommunications license holders.

        As far as broadband is concerned, the only complete national broadband infrastructure consists of Telecom Italia’s own network, and accordingly, it is the chief provider of DSL. In December 2002, TI signed an agreement with Italian IT equipment manufacturer and distributor CDC under which its Alice-branded broadband Internet services would be marketed to residential and small office/home office (SoHo) customers in CDC’s nationwide chain of Computer Discount stores.

        Main ADSL retail offering providers are:


        OperatorServiceSpeed
        Seat-Tin.it (Telecom Italia)Business and residential ADSL in over 100 cities640 kbit/s downstream
        128 kbit/s upstream
        InfostradaBusiness and residential Libero ADSL640 kbit/s downstream
        128 kbit/s upstream
        AlbacomBusinessna
        WindWind Net in 15 cities to business customers640 kbit/s downstream
        128 kbit/s upstream
        TiscaliBusiness and residential640 kbit/s downstream
        128 kbit/s upstream

        .

        Fiber Optic Networks

        In 2001, the Italian fiber optic network covered only 30 percent of the northwest part of the country, 25 percent of central Italy, 25 percent of southern Italy and the islands, and 20% of the northeast. By the end of 2002, 6 million km. of fiber optic cable was added to the existing 149,500 km. by a number of providers.

        E-Via has concluded the first stage of a fiber optic cable broadband network in a central-south Italy ring. Upon completion, the network will be over 8,000 km. long and serve over 100 cities.

        Service Providers operating through Fiber Optic Networks

        In 2000, Wind began implementing its broadband services for mobile and fixed communications across a 10,000 km. fiber optic backbone to 113 cities and connected to the European fiber optic backbone, reaching a total of 250 European cities. Wind also installed metropolitan area networks in 11 cities providing a total length of more than 350 km.

        In June 2002, Tiscali signed an agreement with Telecom Italia to access their fiber optic networks. The 15-year agreement should help Tiscali meet demand for broadband services across Europe.

        The telecom branch of the e-Biscom group launched Metro Ethernet services to the business sector in Milan in March 2000 and, in August 2000, expanded to the Milanese residential sector

        I. WHAT KIND OF REGULATIONS, CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES, AND IMPORT DUTIES DO U.S. EXPORTERS OF WIRELESS EQUIPMENT FACE IN THEIR MARKET?

        Note: The United States Mission to the European Union will provide information as telecommunications equipment is ruled by EU directives

        RESPONSE INFORMATION

        This response was prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial Service in Rome, Italy, in June 2003. For further clarification please contact:

        Mariella Stannus
        Senior Commercial Specialist
        U.S. Commercial Service, Rome
        Mariella.Stannus@mail.doc.gov

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