MILAN, April 2 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia (TIM) TLIT.MI has reached a deal with state-owned Infratel Italia to speed up the roll out of ultrafast broadband in less densely populated areas of Italy as the coronavirus outbreak brings home the need for an efficient network.
With millions under lockdown to try and contain the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are having to work from home and children of all ages are using online learning platforms.
Under the agreement, Infratel will provide fiber-optic backbone infrastructure in eight regions while TIM will hook the cable up locally to street cabinets and install electronic components, the telecoms operator said.
The work will allow the fibre-optic networks installed by Infratel in these areas to be switched on. Some 241 local municipalities are already up and running while the remaining 69 will be switched on by May.
For some time Rome has been actively canvassing for the roll out of a fast fiber network to help companies compete and close the digital divide with much of the rest of Europe.
As part of its plans for an ultrafast network, the government ran tenders to deploy fiber in so-called "white" areas that would not normally be economically viable.
TIM rival Open Fiber, controlled by state-lender CDP and utility Enel ENEI.MI, won those tenders.
But in its statement TIM said all of the white areas in Thursday's agreement were areas not previously put out to tender and the subject of "direct intervention by Infratel Italia".
It said about 1 million users in the local communities involved would benefit from the programme.
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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