ZURICH, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Swiss telecommunications company Swisscom said on Thursday its Fastweb unit will invest around 400 million euro ($515 million) on its Italian fibre optic network by 2016 to bring fast internet connections to 20 percent of Italian homes.
Fastweb, which will spend some 130 million euros by the end of 2013, said its board had approved the funds required for the first stage of the expansion which will reach 19 big cities including Rome, Venice and Florence.
Fastweb said the roll out would draw on Telecom Italia's existing network, using a technology called FTTC (fibre to the street cabinet) which is already used by the incumbent for its own fiber optic plans.
FTTC fiber roll-out plans have been criticised by mobile operators in Italy who claim they obstruct fair competition. But FTTC is seen as a cheaper and faster solution to help Italy reduce its delay in broadband access. ($1 = 0.7759 euros) (Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto and Danilo Masoni; Editing by David Holmes)