Italy's Open Fiber signs network access deal with Fastweb

FILE PHOTO: Optical fibre cables for internet providers are seen running into a Enel Group server room in Perugia, Italy, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian broadband infrastructure group Open Fiber has signed a deal with phone group Fastweb to extend a network fiber access agreement to 80 Italian cities, the companies said on Thursday.

The agreement, confirming what a source had told Reuters, will include big cities not already covered by Fastweb as well as so-called uneconomic areas where Open Fiber is rolling out a broadband network through state tenders.

Open Fiber, jointly controlled by state lender CDP and Europe’s biggest utility Enel, already has a deal with Fastweb for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connection access in Milan.

“This agreement represents a key plank in our strategy,” Fastweb CEO Alberto Calcagno said of the latest deal.

Fastweb, which is controlled by Swisscom, owns 20 percent of Flash Fiber, a joint venture with Telecom Italia to build FTTH broadband infrastructure in the main Italian cities.

Telecom Italia and Open Fiber are building rival fast broadband networks which observers say wastes resources due to duplication.

CDP owns almost 10 percent of Telecom Italia and is the second-largest shareholder in the telecoms incumbent.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Edmund Blair