By Elvira Pollina
Iliad has signed a deal with broadband operator Open Fiber to offer fixed-line services in Italy, it said on Tuesday, as the French telecoms group taps into greater demand for ultra-fast connectivity triggered by the coronavirus crisis.
Over the last few years, Italy's land-line sector has struggled to attract customers, but an increase in working from home and in the use of online learning platforms during lockdown has increased the number of user requests.
Iliad, which launched its low-price mobile offer for Italy two years ago, previously said it aimed to provide its Italian customers with a fixed-line offer by 2024. The French group has over 5.5 million customers in Italy.
"Growing demand for fixed connectivity over the past few months has driven us to accelerate towards our debut in the fixed segment and the agreement with Open Fiber is the first step in that direction," Benedetto Levi, chief executive of Iliad's Italian operations, said in a statement.
Under the agreement with state-backed Open Fiber, a whole-sale only operator, Iliad will offer fiber-to-the-home connectivity to customers across 271 Italian cities.
Iliad's deal with Open Fiber is not exclusive, meaning the group can negotiate similar deals with other operators, a source with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be named.
Iliad's foray in the Italian fixed-line segment would increase the pressure on former monopoly Telecom Italia, after Italy's top pay-TV operator SKY last month launched its own broadband connection service
Telecom Italia's shares were down 2.1% by 0805 GMT on Tuesday against a 0.3% fall in Italy's all-share index.
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; editing by Giulia Segreti and Barbara Lewis)