Fastweb, Vodafone, Wind to build open access network

Italian competitive broadband providers Fastweb, Wind and Vodafone's Italian unit are leveraging their own strength in numbers to construct an open access last mile fiber network in Italy for $3.16 billion.

Under the proposed plan set to be unveiled today, the trio expects to update the existing copper-based last mile network that's owned by incumbent operator Telecom Italia with fiber that will provide broadband access services to 15 large Italian cities. As an open access network, any service provider including Telecom Italia can ride on the network.

While Telecom Italia said it is open to working with competitors to build out a fiber network that could help expand broadband availability throughout Italy, it wants to maintain control of its own wireline network. Separately, Telecom Italia has slated $8.93 billion to expand Italy's network infrastructure into its 2010-12 plans.  

"Certainly the effort that all the operators must make to provide infrastructure for the country can only but gain from this type of initiative," Telecom Italia Chief Executive Franco Bernabe said in a Wall Street Journal article.

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