Monday, 18 October 2021

TIM mulling bid for $1 billion Italian cloud hub project

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 06 September 21

The operator looks set to take on the task of upgrading the country's national data centre infrastructure alongside Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), Leonardo, and Sogei

Back in April, not long after new Italian Prime minister Mario ‘Super Mario’ Draghi took office, the Italian government sent their Recovery Plan to Brussels, seeking to gain access to EU funds to help the nation’s economic recovery post-Covid-19.    As part of this plan, Rome had earmarked around €900 million to create a national cloud hub, hoping to eschew the country&rsquo…

Back in April, not long after new Italian Prime minister Mario ‘Super Mario’ Draghi took office, the Italian government sent their Recovery Plan to Brussels, seeking to gain access to EU funds to help the nation’s economic recovery post-Covid-19. 
 
As part of this plan, Rome had earmarked around €900 million to create a national cloud hub, hoping to eschew the country’s reliance on large international tech players for cloud services.
 
By June, rumours were circulating that Italian state lender CDP, the majority stakeholder in OpenFiber, was considering a partnership with TIM and defence group Leonardo in order to potentially take on the cloud project.
 
Now, it seems this plan to upgrade the country’s national data centre infrastructure is beginning to come of age, with Italian Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao suggesting on Saturday that he expects expressions of interest to be submitted over the coming weeks.
 
“I'm confident we will receive some expressions of interest by the end of the month,” said Colao on Saturday, noting that “technological independence of Europe is important because it allows the bloc to negotiate (with foreign partners) on an equal footing”.
 
As expected, it seems that TIM, CDP, and Leonardo are indeed interested in tackling the project, alongside an additional partner in the form of state-owned IT firm Sogei.
 
“The minister will not be disappointed... we will present an offer and I believe it will meet the requirements,” said Telecom Italia’s Chief Executive Luigi Gubitosi.
 
“The promoter of the initiative is CDP and we are also working with Leonardo and (state-owned IT firm) Sogei. We are a qualified group of Italian companies that will try to give an answer to the needs of the country,” he added.
 
More details regarding the project itself are expected be announced by the government later this week.
 
In related news, Gubitosi this weekend also noted that he does not believe that plans to combine TIM’s fixed network assets with those of Open Fibre have been ‘shelved’. The plan to merge the businesses to create a national fibre network had first been conceptualised under the previous Italian government, but considerable delays and disagreement between the key players has seen little progress made in 2021. 
 
While Colao himself is a great advocate for such a merger, arguing that it will help accelerate fibre deployment and avoid duplicating investment, other government ministers are far less optimistic, saying that the move will recreate a fibre monopoly and drive up costs for customers.
 
 
Will Italy’s post-Covid recovery plan accelerate fibre deployment across the country? Find out from the experts themselves at this year’s Connected Italy event
 
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