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FiberCop signs co-investment deal with AfinnaOne

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The new deal is TIM's preferred model of others providing FTTH from its cabinets

TIM Group's infrastructure unit, FiberCop, has signed an agreement with AfinnaOne to co-investment in a project to speed up deployment of FTTH.

AfinnaOne will use the so-called secondary access fibre network (that is, between TIM's cabinets and customers' homes), to connect FiberCop homes based on the purchase, on an indefeasible right of use basis for 20 years, of dedicated fibre infrastructure equipment (primary and secondary splitters and fibre-optic links).

TIM's press statement said, "AfinnaOne’s endorsement of the co-investment offer – which the TIM Group is implementing through FiberCop – follows that of other important operators and confirms the soundness of FiberCop’s investment plan, which will ensure FTTH coverage for 75% of the country’s grey and black areas [areas of no or poor fibre broadband availability] by 2025.

TIM committed to closing the digital divide in Italy by the end of this year in the light of the pandemic.

The press statement also said, "The agreement reached confirms the effectiveness of the co-investment model, which allows all interested operators to participate in the deployment of optical fibre in Italy in an infrastructure competition framework.

"Moreover, it speeds up the process of overcoming the digital divide in the country and allows households and businesses to choose ultrabroadband connections with speeds of over 1 Gbps."

Still no single national provider

TIM, the telecoms regulator and other interested parties have been striving to set up a single national fibre provider by bringing together FiberCop and rival Open Fiber for many months, but have so far failed to do so due to wrangles about the price, ownership and control.

Open Fiber operates Italy’s largest FTTH network, with more than 12 million households passed in more than 180 urban centres and more than 2,300 rural municipalities across the country.

Open Fiber is also leading the roll out of ultrafast broadband throughout Italy, aiming to pass more than 19 million households with its wholesale-only network. In August, Macquarie Asset Management finalised an agreement with the Italian state-backed Enel to acquire a 40% equity interest in Open Fiber for €2.12 billion.

Earlier this week TIM's CEO quit after sustained pressure from the group's largest shareholder, France's Vivendi, which is mightily dissastified with the group's financial performance, and in the face of a 'friendly' takeover bid by infrastructure investor, KKR.