The national plan for ultra-fast broadband aims to guarantee that 85% of citizens will have access to 100 megabytes per second (Mbps) broadband and that 100% of citizens will have access to 30 Mbps broadband by 2020. The Development and Cohesion Fund has been allocated €2.2 billion for high-priority investment and medium and small operators will be allowed to use a pay-per-use model for fibre-optic broadband.
The decree on ultra wideband has been given the green light, with the allocation of €2.2 billion to create reliable and eagerly awaited infrastructure. Following a number of delays, the project has been scheduled to begin in autumn. The next step in the project is the approval of regulations regarding new types of incentive and the simplification of procedures for laying optical fibre.
The €400 million that the Ministry of Economic Development has earmarked for enterprises which invest in large research and development projects will be made available shortly. Financial support is divided into two calls with a budgetary provision of €150 million for the information technology and electronic communication sector and €250 million for sustainable industry projects.
The Unlock Italy Decree has significant implications for the telecoms sector. In particular, a 50% tax credit is envisaged for wideband in 'white areas' – that is, where there is no return on private investment. The scale and impact of this initiative remain to be seen, but it will no doubt prove beneficial for the telecoms industry.
During the Digital Venice event organised as part of Italy's six-month EU Council presidency, telecoms operators submitted a joint document outlining a two-part objective: the creation of a European roundtable on the matter of networks and the establishment of a 'zero bureaucracy' system. The Italian government's response to this initiative has been resolute, as it recently allocated €157 million in development contracts to telecoms.
According to recent data, the value of Italy's digital market has fallen to €65.162 billion – 4.4% lower than in 2012 – indicating a downturn that contrasts with the 3.8% increase seen in the global digital market. This figure has been dragged down by the performance of the telecommunications sector, which has prompted calls for a new investment-orientated strategy focusing on the digital agenda.
AGCOM (the Italian communications authority) and the Competition Authority have launched an in-depth survey of the information and communications technology sector. Fixed and mobile broadband and ultra-fast broadband services will be under scrutiny, as will potential anti-competitive cartels in the sector. The survey also aims to facilitate infrastructure investments pursuant to the government's digital agenda.
Italy is seen as lagging behind when it comes to implementation of the digital agenda. However, the prime minister recently noted that this lost ground could be made up by freeing up broadband frequencies. The spectrum may be the key to making significant progress with the digital agenda, guaranteeing all citizens a fast network connection and giving businesses better access to broadband and cloud computing.
There has been much talk in Italy of a possible telecommunications network spin-off. After being put on hold, the process has now commenced following approval by the telecommunications regulator. The project envisages the formation of two new companies - Opac, which will manage and develop passive network infrastructure, and Ti ServiceCo, which will cover all other activities presently undertaken by Telecom Italia.
AGCOM (the Italian communications authority) has announced that new regulations aimed at fighting online piracy will be published soon. Among other things, the introduction of a new type of trial has been proposed, which would halve the length of the decision-making process concerning copyright infringement through the Internet. The new regulations will also combat the advertising that fuels online piracy.
Due to its emphasis on innovation, the telecommunications sector has remained relatively stable throughout the ongoing economic crisis, with largely steady growth in recent years. However, the telecommunications market has always been volatile, so before investing capital, it is important to carry out a detailed analysis of both the standing of the business in question and the market forecast for the coming years.
The telecoms sector is attracting increasing attention in Italy. With the so-called Decreto Sviluppo 2.0, the government has adopted legislation supporting innovative start-ups and certified incubators. The new law aims to promote sustainable growth, technological development and new entrepreneurship and employment, which would be particularly beneficial for telecoms operators and investors.
A public consultation on the scheme of the new regulation for the allocation of available digital terrestrial television (DTT) frequencies recently closed. Once the European Commission approves the regulation, the Ministry of Economic Development will launch an auction for six DTT multiplexes. However, the upcoming general election could trigger some delay.
GARR-X (the Italian University and Research Network) is the first next-generation network to be released in Italy. The new network was launched by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. It will allow Italian researchers to connect with the wider community of international researchers. This is a first, significant step towards digital innovation in the context of schools, universities and research.
The Court of Milan has referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling in connection with technological protection measures applied to video game consoles. The ECJ referral follows a dispute between Nintendo and PCBox Srl, which produces and markets devices aimed at bypassing the technological protection measures applied to Nintendo's consoles.
'Crescita 2.0' is the body of rules comprising the second Growth Decree that was proposed by the minister for economic development, infrastructure and transport and recently approved by the Council of Ministers. The decree aims to make Italy a place where innovation is the driving force behind sustainable growth and one of the key factors of its industrial competitiveness.
On-demand streaming of audiovisual content has raised several questions regarding proper compensation due to authors, producers and performers. Among these questions are how to apply both the term 'communication to the public' under the Copyright Law and the private copy exemption to streamed content, and how cloud services fit in with current regulations and guidelines.
The Court of Cassation has penalised the senders of email newsletters without the recipients' prior consent with nine months' imprisonment. The Data Protection Code criminalises the processing of personal data without the data subject's consent and with the intent to gain profit or cause harm. In this case, the harm sustained by the recipients was linked merely to the time lost in going through the non-requested emails.
The Criminal Court of Cassation has issued a final decision in favour of StanleyBet's data transmission centres, finding that their business operations comply with Italian and EU law. The company operates a highly successful business model based on 200 agencies which do not hold an Italian gaming licence or pay Italian gaming taxes, but operate as internet cafés that offer bets under Stanley's UK gaming licence.
The IP Court of Florence has ruled on the liability of search engines and the circumstances in which they are obliged to remove infringing material. The court's view of Google as a caching provider reflects the conclusion reached in the recent Yahoo! case, albeit that this view had different outcomes for the two search engines in question.