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EU approves Italy ultra-broadband scheme

(AGI) Rome, June 30 - Italy's ultra-broadband scheme for areas of so-called mark...

EU approves Italy ultra-broadband scheme
 001 Margrethe Vestager Ue - afp

(AGI) Rome, June 30 - Italy's ultra-broadband scheme for areas of so-called market failure "are in line with EU state aid rules," the EU Commission announced in a press release on Thursday, saying that the government is not distorting competition. The scheme, according to EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, will bring faster internet to Italian consumers and businesses and "will help Italy to build the necessary infrastructure and contribute to creating a connected Digital Single Market in the EU. The Italian government's strategy on ultra-broadband, is ''in line with the objectives of the Digital Single Market" and aims at increasing high-speed broadband coverage. This, "will contribute to Italy's objective of providing 85 percent of households and all public buildings (in particular schools and hospitals) with access to data transfer speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (mbps). The scheme will run until 31 December 2022. The Italian state will fully finance the new infrastructure, which will remain in public ownership, and a concessionaire will be selected to operate the network." The Commission, the note continues, assessed the measure under EU state aid rules, in particular its 2013 Broadband Guidelines. These aim to ensure, amongst other things, that public funding does not take the place of private investment. These rules, according to the Commission, strive to ensure "that other service providers can use the publicly funded infrastructure on a non-discriminatory basis. This protects effective competition, which is a key driver for investment and better prices and quality for consumers and businesses." According to the EU, the Italian scheme will "spend public money on underserved areas without crowding out private investment. Support will be granted only in areas where currently no Next Generation Access network exists, i.e. networks that can ensure speeds above 30 mbps, or is due to be deployed in the next three years (so-called "white" areas). To identify these areas, Italy has carried out a detailed mapping and a public consultation." Italy's scheme is also accompanied by a detailed evaluation plan, the results of which will be submitted to the Commission by June 2022.. .