Italy thinks it would be a really good idea to create a monopoly national fibre provider, but it looks like its overlords in Brussels don’t agree.
We suspect this because Bloomberg has been chatting to people who claim to be familiar with the matter, as are we all now. These Deep Throats, who may or may not work for the EU’s press corps, confided in Bloomberg that the EU’s antitrust arm would likely oppose the move. Since their whole purpose is to oppose the creation of monopolies that’s good to hear.
Regulators tend to be a lot more squeamish about private monopolies than state ones, even though the underlying concerns about consumer protection and inefficiency apply regardless of whether the monopoly is allowed to book a profit. TIM has made it clear that it expects to be in charge of any merger between its fixed line operations and Open Fiber, but maybe the EU would calm down if the famously competent and efficient Italian government was calling the shots.
This bit of potential news comes just a week after Vodafone’s CEO had a public moan about what was going on in Italy, among other things. While we were sceptical about the tactic at the time, we have to concede that it seems to have worked. Whether or not the moaning would abate if the Italian state was in charge of the fibre monopoly is unclear.
This looks set to be the latest in a sequence of clashes between Italy and the European Union, as the frustrations of surrendering move of its political power to an unelected Franco-German cabal make themselves felt. Italy is positioning this move as necessary to boost the lagging domestic fibre roll out, so the blocking of it is unlikely to go down well with Italian punters unable to watch Netflix without being plagued by the dreaded swirly thing.