Vodafone to invest 1 bln eur in Italy mobile broadband

* To boost coverage to 1000 Italian villages

* Italy seeking to boost Internet access in remote areas

MILAN, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Vodafone VOD.L said it plans to invest about 1 billion euros ($1.39 billion) to boost mobile broadband coverage in Italy over the next three to four years, as Italy pushes to expand access to high-speed Internet across the country.

Vodafone said it considered mobile broadband best suited to boosting Internet access in remote areas of the country, as debate continues in Italy over the best way to link isolated villages to the Internet economically.

Under its plan, Vodafone will extend mobile broadband coverage to cover as many 1000 Italian villages and towns over three years starting January 2011. About 1,800 Italian villages are estimated to lack access to high-speed Internet, it said.

Vodafone, along with Italy's No. 2 broadband operator Fastweb FWB.MI and Wind, earlier this year announced plans to roll out a 2.5 billion euro fibre-optic network in Italy, but the project suffered a setback when former monopoly Telecom Italia TLIT.MI refused to join. ($1=.7219 Euro) (Editing by Hans Peters)


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