ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
On 3 May 2012, the Italian Government notified the European Commission about a support program for a telecommunication infrastructure project (FIBERSAR) and for the construction of the gas distribution network (BULGAS).
Since 2006, the region of Sardinia financed the upgrade of local telephone centers, and rolled out its own public network (RTR) connecting the offices of the regional public administration. The region also adhered to the 2009 national framework project to build backhaul networks in underserved rural areas. However, the region still lags behind in terms of bandwidth.
The FIBERSAR project concerns the realisation of the public fiber-based network RTP and of the basic Next Generation Access (NGA) infrastructure for private users. Given the high costs of civil work for the implementation of NGA networks, the Italian authorities want to carry out the FIBERSAR project in concomitance with the planned construction of the gas distribution network (BULGAS project).
The aid will cover the following activities:
- laying of ducts;
- connection of all public interest points into a Public Telematic Network (RTP);
- laying of dark fiber to facilitate NGA deployment for 50% of the population;
- management, maintenance and extension of the infrastructure.
In a subsequent phase, a wholesaler will be selected to manage and maintain the network.
The aid takes the form of a direct grant allocated on the basis of an open tender process. The total amount of the support will be of more than EUR 8 million.
As the European Commission reports, the selected operator will receive financial support and will be able to provide broadband services at conditions not otherwise available on the market. 'The fact that an improved broadband service becomes available had the effect of distorting competition. Insofar as the intervention is liable to affect providers of electronic communication services from other Member States, the measure has an effect on trade... Therefore... the Commission considers that the scheme constitutes State aid within the meaning of Article 107(+) of the TFEU'. 'Pp.7-8 letter of the EC to Italy, Brussels, 28.06.2012; C(2012) 6911 final'
A state measure in the GTA database is assessed solely in terms of the extent to which its implementation affects the extent of discrimination against foreign commercial interests. On this metric, the state aid proposed here is discriminatory.
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