* Telecom Italia is considering fixed network spin off
* Fastweb not interested in sharing active network
* Would consider renting passive infrastructure if needed
By Robert-Jan Bartunek
BRUSSELS, Oct 19 Swisscom's Italian
arm Fastweb would not invest in the fixed-line access network
which Telecom Italia may spin off, the Swiss telecom
firm's boss told Reuters, in a potential setback to Italy's
hopes to boost broadband access.
Telecom Italia said earlier in October it was in talks with
state-backed financing body Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) to
move its valuable landline infrastructure into a separate
The Italian government hopes such a move could attract
outside investors to spur the development of the country's
broadband infrastructure, which is lagging well behind many
The access network is the system of lines that connect the
core telecoms network to homes and offices.
Swisscom Chief Executive Carsten Schloter told Reuters it
was unclear whether a new Italian network company would rent out
only passive infrastructure, such as ducts with cables to be
installed, or also active infrastructure, including cables and
"The latter is not worth it in our view," Schloter said,
adding it was his company's strategy to differentiate itself by
offering higher quality products to its customers.
"In Italy the same is true as in Switzerland: if you offer
quality you generate better profits per customer," Schloter
said, signalling Swisscom would mostly use its own
infrastructure rather than seeking to share Telecom Italia's.
SPIN-OFF LIKELY TO TAKE TIME
Fastweb, which offers telephone, Internet and TV, would be
interested in renting passive infrastructure if needed, but
would not be interested in buying the network operator itself,
He added it would take some time for a final decision on how
the new Italian network operator would look.
"It's a high-level political discussion which I believe is
driven by Telecom Italia looking to bring down its debt," he
Telecom Italia had net debt of 30.4 billion euros ($39.3
billion) at the end of June and analysts expect the access
network to be worth between 9 and 15 billion.
Telecom Italia chairman Franco Bernabe has said any spin-off
of the network will be done purely for industrial reasons.
In September, Fastweb and Telecom Italia signed a memorandum
of understanding to develop fibre optic networks in the country.
($1 = 0.7638 euros)
(Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni in Milan and Leila
Abboud in Paris; Editing by Mark Potter)