The Italian government, which has been slow to allow competition to its national operator Telecom Italia, has awarded Infostrada SpA a license to construct and operate a telecommunications network spanning Italy. Infostrada, which is 75 % owned by Olivetti SpA, with the remaining stock held by Mannesmann GmbH, already provides data and voice services to approximately 2,000 business customers in Italy, but with the new network it will target the Italian general public, in what is one of the European Union’s least successfully liberalized telecommunications markets. The Olivetti-owned company has already poured 300 billion Italian lira in building a fixed-line network and plans to spend at least a further 1,000 billion lira building a national network so that it can offer services to both individual and corporate users nationwide within five years time. Olivetti and Mannesmann also own wireless operator Omnitel-Pronto Italia SpA.
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