Ultra Wide Band: What are the white, gray and black areas?

Ultra Wide Band: What are the white, gray and black areas?

Ultra Wide Band

When we talk about optical fiber and ultra-broadband connections, we often run into the division of the territory into white, gray and black areas to indicate the level of diffusion of this type of connectivity.

This distinction, on the other hand, this is the criterion on which the strategic plan for ultra-broadband is based, which provides precisely for state intervention in areas of the country characterized by the absence or scarce presence of private initiatives in this sector, defined precisely as gray areas and white areas. br>
However, there is often a tendency to imprecise the distinction between white, gray and black areas with the more or less densely populated areas of the Italian territory: although demographic concentration undoubtedly plays an important role in the spread of ultra-broadband , there are other factors involved in this type of classification.

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When was the distinction in areas introduced White areas Gray areas Black areas What factors determine the white, gray and black areas? What are clusters? Cluster A (black areas) Cluster B (gray areas) Cluster C (white areas) Cluster D (white areas) What are ultra-white areas? Areas and Municipalities: let's be clear What is the percentage of white areas in Italy? White areas plan: where are we? Fiber optic connection cabinet - https://www.pexels.com/photo/connected-fc-cables-in-modern-data-center-4425157/

When was the distinction in areas introduced?

The classification of territories into white, gray and black areas appears for the first time in a communication from the European Commission inserted in the Official Journal of the EU in March 2013, in which the guidelines for the evaluation of state aid to support of basic and ultra-wideband broadband networks (Next Generation Access, at least 30Mbps in download).

As illustrated in paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 of the communication, at European level the areas are defined based on the presence or absence of of private investors who intend to independently implement network infrastructures within a maximum period of three years.

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White areas

The NGA white areas do not have an ultra-wide connection and it is unlikely that over the next three years are subject to private investments. The white areas can therefore be the subject of state aid to support this type of network.

Gray areas

The gray areas NGA are the territories where only one is already present or will be developed NGA network and where no other operator plans to implement it in the near future. In the presence of several market players, the Commission therefore reserves the right to assess the need for state intervention on a case-by-case basis.

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What factors determine the white, gray and black areas?

Already from the definition of white, gray and black areas contained in the communication of the European Commission it emerges the importance of the presence or absence of market investments by one or more private operators.

Credit: Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels It is important specify that the factor of economic interest is already present within this first resolution: the white areas, specifically, are indicated by the EU as "market failure" areas, or in which the single market is unable to organize efficient results for society without state intervention, but not only.

The fallacy of the univocal association between greater population density and greater interventions for the implementation of ultra-broadband networks emerges prop rio in the second circumstance in which market failure can be generated, or

when market operators do not fully internalize the benefits of their shares. For example, the availability of broadband networks opens the way to new services and innovation, the benefits of which in all likelihood will not be limited to direct investors and network subscribers only. Consequently, the results of the market would generate insufficient private investments in broadband networks.

What is meant by cluster?

The Italian government, already in the first definition of a strategy for the band ultralarga dating back to 2015, has reshaped the classification of the European Commission by dividing the territory into four clusters.

Photo credit - Depositphotos.com

Cluster A (black areas)

Cluster A, corresponding to the black areas of the community guidelines, is the one with the best cost-benefit ratio and the greatest interest of private operators to undertake investments also for ultra-broadband networks up to 100Mbps and beyond.

In this cluster the Italian strategy for ultra-broadband does not provide for any public intervention except on the demand side, through the issuance of vouchers directly to end users.

Cluster B (gray areas)

In cluster B, corresponding to the gray areas of the community guidelines, an operator has built or will build an ultra-broadband network, but the market conditions are not present sufficient to guarantee acceptable returns to private individuals for investing in 100Mbps networks.

In this cluster the Italian strategy for ultra-broadband provides for a limit to the funds allocated by public intervention p at 70% of the investment value.

Cluster C (white areas)

Cluster C, corresponding to some white areas of the EU guidelines, is an area with market failure in which there are no private operators willing to autonomously invest in 100Mbps networks.

In this cluster the Italian strategy for ultra-broadband provides for a partial involvement of the private market against an important government incentive of 70% of the investment value limit, like cluster B.

Cluster D (white areas)

Cluster D, corresponding to the remaining white areas of the community guidelines, is an area with market failure in which only public intervention can guarantee connectivity exceeding 30Mbps.

In this cluster the Italian strategy for ultra broadband plans to allocate the majority of public incentives through direct State intervention.

What are the white areas very few?

Photo credit - Depositphotos.com For most of us, thinking that we don't have any kind of Internet access seems incompatible with the needs of today's life: however, the Agcom surveys carried out in the period of the first lockdowns have detected about 200 small municipalities without any fixed or mobile connectivity service, renamed “very white areas”.

In other words, 186 thousand citizens residing in the Italian territory cannot connect to the Internet to date. To resolve this serious shortcoming, which contributes to further accentuating the digital divide, Open Fiber has allocated funds to reach these municipalities, located in rural areas or in mountainous areas that are difficult to wire, by means of an FWA connection.

The FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) technology involves the use of radio solutions to reach these areas otherwise impossible to reach with the typical laying of cables: in practice, in each house an antenna or a dish is mounted that picks up and transforms the signal to guarantee the connection to the Internet.

Areas and Municipalities: let's be clear

Analyzing the distinction between white, gray and black areas, however, an important clarification must be made: the concept of area is not coincides with the territory of a municipality. The strategy for ultra-broadband has in fact divided the territory of Italy into more than 94 thousand areas spread over about 800 thousand municipalities.

Similarly, at least in an initial phase, consultations for the mapping of ultra-broadband are not took place at the level of a single house number or housing unit, but on the basis of the statistical definition of "locality" provided by the ISTAT, or

a more or less vast area of ​​territory, usually known by a proper name, on which are located one or more houses grouped or scattered. The typologies of inhabited localities considered by the census are the inhabited center, the inhabited nucleus, the scattered houses and the special areas.

In more recent times, the mapping of the white areas has been refined by carrying out surveys on each single number civic, standard which then became a practice for Infratel consultations regarding state interventions.

It is therefore not exactly correct to say, for example, that an entire Municipality is in itself a "gray area" if the majority of the locations that fall under it are gray areas: more correct definitions include:

An address belongs to the gray areas; An inhabited center (which therefore excludes any fractions of the same Municipality) belongs to the gray areas; A municipality is 90% gray.

What is the percentage of white areas in Italy?

Based on the data available on the platform of the Ultra-broadband Strategic Plan, in 2019 66.6% of the Italian territory was covered by ultra-broadband at at least 30Mbps, while ultra-broadband at least 100Mbps was limited to just over 20%. On the basis of the latest Infratel monitoring, on the other hand,

operators have provided data for each street address - over 19.8 million - falling in the gray and black areas in 4,250 Italian municipalities for 25.8 million units real estate. The remaining 12 million civic addresses, in over 6,700 Italian municipalities, are subject to public intervention in the so-called white areas.

The state interventions planned for the white and gray areas have made it possible to finish December 2021, more than 2000 fiber sites and 1195 wireless sites, corresponding to 35% of the total envisaged in the Plan.

On the private front, Open Fiber, the assignee of all three contracts for the coverage of the white areas, has promised to cover 81% of the aforementioned areas with Fiber-to-the-Home technology up to 1Gbps in download and the remaining 19% with FWA technology, so as to guarantee ultra-broadband to 25% of the Italian population.

White areas plan: where are we?

The white areas plan, which includes the aforementioned coverage guaranteed by Open Fiber, was approved by the European Commission in 2019 and is part of the national strategy for the u-band broadband, which aims to bring ultra-broadband to these areas by 2025.

The white areas, identified by means of mapping at the house number, are then subject to intervention on the basis of executive projects presented by individual municipalities. You can check the progress of the works on the platform of the Strategic Plan for ultra-broadband.

The latest mapping of the white areas, available in full in the summary report of the Ministry for Economic Development, was concluded at November 2021 with the participation of 34 private operators.

This operation has helped to update and define the areas that will be subject to public intervention within the 1 Giga Italy plan for the implementation of ultra-broadband connections 1Gbps download.

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