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CEO of WINDTRE speaks out against the vertically integrated operator

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CEO Jeffrey Hedberg argues wholesale is the winning model for 5G network development, but there are still too many obstacles.

Hedberg, writing in the Italian newspaper, Sole24Ore, said, “Our concerns…are linked to the model of a vertically integrated operator, whoever [they are].

Wholesale winner

He said WINDTRE is “very satisfied with the partnership with Open Fiber and the wholesale model because it offers absolute value for quality, prices and responsiveness”.

He pointed out that three years most of its customers had ADSL, then there was a jump to ultrabroadband and now 65% of new subscribers have fibre access.

On the other hand, where WINDTRE has to rely with vertically integrated operators, Hedberg stated, “We have to deal with higher prices, lower performance and longer times for the development of infrastructures.

“Now we don't want to see any more years waiting for evaluations and approvals. We do not want distractions, but go on with the roll-out. This is all the more important today, with people studying and working from home. "

Regarding 5G

Hedberg sees 5G as “a great opportunity. We have modernised our network, which is '5G ready', and have done a good job of experimenting in L'Aquila and Prato”.

He goes on to warn about obstacles, with authorisations at the top of his list of concerns. He complained that “hundreds of municipalities have said 'no' in various ways to 5G sites” and alluded to the damage done by fake claims that 5G spreads the Covid-19 virus.

Heavy investments

He noted, “As a sector, we have invested €6.5 billion in public auctions for the licences of 5G frequencies and now we are not in a position to continue the rollout. Government support is needed. Furthermore, we have electromagnetic limits in Italy which are much more stringent than in the rest of Europe.”

Hedberg continued, “In the last ten years, €77 billion have been invested in telecommunications, plus 13 more for frequencies…it must be taken into consideration that the shareholders are largely international and have many other opportunities in the world.

“They have invested a lot because they believe in Italy, but now that the network has been modernised, the frequencies have been purchased and the first experiments have been carried out, there is the risk that an impasse will prevent them seeing a return on their investment.”

He asked the telecoms sector for responses to his concerns, concluding, “WINDTRE and the whole industry are holding up well, which is no coincidence, but…the result of the huge investments made in these years. We are proud of the role we have taken on.

“This is the present – what I think about is the future of Italy. We need to act today to take advantage of the next challenges."