Wind and Fastweb sign unbundling and FTTH network sharing deal

It_dp The topic of network sharing or collaborative deployment amongst competitors is a major buzz in the FTTH field these days. The EU in particular seems to think it has found the silver bullet to solve the investment vs. competition conundrum. I have my doubts. As I recently pointed out at a conference where I was asked about co-investment and infrastructure sharing in fiber, in order to share, you need trust, and that's in very short supply amongst competitors…

Still, a recent announcement seems to hint at some amount of trust being achievable when competitive operators are squeezed by the incumbent. Wind and Fastweb have announced that they would share each other's unbundling equipment in response to Telecom Italia's recent increase of its unbundling costs.

The interesting bit for me is that Fastweb will also wholesale its FTTH network to Wind. This makes a whole lot of sense, especially since Fastweb's take-up is drastically low, for reasons that I still can't quite fathom. I suspect the fiber component is not the core of the agreement, at least originally, but simply a way to have a roughly equivalent number of addressable customers on both ends of the deal. It is, however, interesting to see one of the oldest European commercial FTTH networks open up to wholesale in a significant way.

This brings back to mind an older deal, maybe from last year, between Fastweb (or was it Metroweb?) and Telecom Italia which currently allows Telecom Italia to say it provides FTTH without having deployed a single line. It simply purchases wholesale access to the line in Milan. I wonder if this is a realisation of a business potential by Fastweb and how manageable it is to eat from both Wind and TI. Back to that trust issue, I guess…