Friday, May 07, 2010

Brazil and Italy embark on ambitious broadband projects

The Brazilian government is to invest around BRL 13 billion (approximately $7.3bn) to reduce the costs and boost access to broadband internet services among low-income households across the country, according to TelecomPaperReuters report that the former state telecom monopoly (Telebras) will be revived as part of the plan, to operate a backbone network comprising 23,000km of fibre optic cable. The FT (Telecoms: Country in a hurry to get completely wired) offer further detail:
"Mr Alvarez (co-ordinator of the Brazil’s digital inclusion programme) says the government will take 21,000km of state-owned fibre optic cables already built by Eletrobras, which are at present idle, and sell concessions to various companies around the country. “This will be negotiated on a big open table, with all the operators. It will be a great national arrangement between public and private concessions,” he explains. He hopes to revive Telebras, the long dormant old state entity, to run the market for the project. Some think this might be rather difficult. Analysts say reviving the entity could pose legal problems, because of long-outstanding liabilities. Mr Alvarez says the 31,000km of fibre that should be available by 2012 will be able to reach 87.5 per cent of the population. And, as in the case of voice services, mobile broadband may plug holes left by the plan."
Developments in Italy are commercially- rather than government-led. From the FT (Tel Italia rivals plan €2.5bn broadband network):
"Three of Italy’s leading telecoms companies are set to announce a €2.5bn plan to build a superfast broadband network in 15 cities...The €2.5bn network plan involving Vodafone, Wind and Fastweb could give the three companies a better opportunity to compete with Telecom Italia for customers, based on the quality of the services they offer. Although Vodafone’s Italian unit and Wind are mobile-focused businesses, they also offer fixed-line services like Fastweb."
In comparison, Telecom Italia (apparently the most heavily indebted of Europe's former fixed-line phone monopolies) plans to spend €700m by the end of 2012 on fibre infrastructure that will reach 1.3m buildings in 13 cities.

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