Why you need to clarify Open Fiber
The speech by Francesco Vatalaro, full professor of Telecommunications at the University of Rome Tor Vergata
I read Carlo Di Foggia's article of 22 May in the Fatto Quotidiano ("Open Fiber: the disaster of Renzi&Starace "snags" Cdp and Macquarie") and I cannot refrain from intervening with some reflections and with the memory of my many actions in the seven years have passed.
Di Foggia writes that "the disaster of ultra-broadband arises from his creature Open Fiber" and I agree. He then writes that "there were all the elements to foresee it already in April 2016 when at Palazzo Chigi [Matteo Renzi] announced the undertaking to challenge Tim on the network" and here he specifies: the disaster had been foreseen and has been denounced over the years . From who? From me. I remember it with sadness and a sense of defeat, without the slightest arrogance.
For the first time I spoke about it in a long and detailed speech, with a written report, at a conference held in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Chamber of Deputies on 7 July 2016. In my speech before parliamentarians, industrial and university experts, journalists, I described already with an abundance of technical details what would have happened. According to Di Foggia "Open Fiber was an economically senseless challenge from the beginning": sure, but it was not a naive mistake. While guarantor, I wonder: why the judiciary, faced with the disaster, announced and consumed, has never investigated? So what's it going to do? Are there no investigations into state scandals? There were specific interests behind the Open Fiber affair, linked to public funding that the Government and CIPE had transferred from other regional and national expenditure items to channel them into the operation.
A few months after the foundation of the company, the Infratel Italia appointee writes public tenders containing clauses and parameters clearly oriented in the exclusive favor of Open Fiber; there have always been rumors in the environment, at least, of forms of favoritism. Was there more than general benevolence? The fact is that Open Fiber won all the regional tenders, with stratospheric reductions, but not only: also increasing the promise of the optical lines that it would have created with respect to the tender basis. Everyone already knew that it was impossible to carry out the plan, pharaonic and full of technical errors: nobody spoke. Why has there never been a serious public debate, given the relevance of the issue for the citizen? Why was every timid attempt to clarify things inexorably followed by disinformation on data and circumstances, using the firepower of communication?
The interest of the underground optical fiber lobby in the "plan of the statesman of Rignano and his consultants" went far beyond the succulent dish of public money on which to get your hands and which, as we have seen above, was cleverly diverted from other jobs already approved. The lobby aimed at "all in", checkmate, i.e. stripping Telecom Italia of its flesh and forcing private shareholders to get rid of the network that the state lobbyists were already ready to confiscate, through a public vehicle they were setting up: whether it was Enel, Cdp , or else, it doesn't matter (the important thing was that the operation took place with other people's money, even better if public). Mind you. This is not a secondary fact: the current catastrophe of Italian telecommunications largely depends on the choices of those years.
While all this was happening with great state arrogance, in full view of everyone (who didn't want to or didn't know how to see), I patiently insisted on the Open Fiber case for a long time: I published numerous articles full of data – information and numbers – always documented , never denied: is it possible that no one has ever deigned to investigate? StartMag has recently taken care of the uncollected penalties : here too nothing has happened. Why? What interests get in the way?
But in the past seven years I have not limited myself to writing articles, answering interviews, speaking at conferences and trying to sensitize slothful colleagues. By reconnecting the threads of public domain information that others insisted on ignoring or denying, in January 2021 I carried out a study on which I based a long document, requested of me by Telecom Italia which in the meantime had to defend itself in Court against the Open Fiber accusation, resulting from an Antitrust conviction which accused her of imaginative anti-competitive behavior: my document was deposited by the lawyers in a hearing with the Council of State which I doubt ever examined it. Why was the sworn document not considered?
It is not enough. I also wrote a summary document of the previous one and I brought it in person on March 26, 2021 to the Ministry of Economic Development asking that it be delivered to Minister Giorgetti, who I assume never received it; no one has ever answered me, not even with a courtesy note. Why wasn't I called to explain, clarify, integrate?
I had conversations both with the then Minister of Innovation, Paola Pisano, and with Infratel Italia, the state grantor, also accompanying a parliamentarian from the last legislature, the Hon. Vincenza Bruno Bossio, the only person in the institutions who is clearly at odds with his group, the Democratic Party (he was not re-elected despite having a large area of consensus, could it be a coincidence?), has shown sensitivity to the problem. Even the Honorable Member, despite the constant requests and complaints to the Commission, has always found closed doors. Why?
Several times I have been invited to speak on the problem of Italian telecommunications at the IX Transport and Telecommunications Commission of the Chamber of Deputies where I have always spoken clearly. Nothing ever happened, despite the gravity of the situation being in front of everyone's eyes since 2020, at least. For years, five governments (Renzi, Gentiloni, Conte I and II, Draghi) pretended nothing had happened and the institutions that were supposed to deal with the problem have always been reticent. Sooner or later, someone will ask why? And, above all, will you want to find the answers?
I therefore agree with Di Foggia's analysis which finally brings to light the case of Open Fiber in a national newspaper, but I must be explicit on one aspect: it was not a "dream" that turned out to be a nightmare or an unfortunate accident of route. It was a crime with the names and surnames of those responsible.
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/innovazione/open-fiber/ on Wed, 24 May 2023 08:48:15 +0000.