(Bloomberg) — Shortly after coronavirus forced Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to lock down the country, lawmaker Massimiliano Capitanio took an unusual call at his office in Rome.
It was an appeal for help from a hospital at the epicenter of the outbreak in northern Italy. Its administrators direly needed faster internet connections and computers to deal with the flood of patients. Capitanio — who sits on parliament’s telecommunications committee — called the country’s phone companies to help out.
To Capitanio, the pandemic was a wake-up call to fix Italy’s creaking internet. Now Conte has stepped in with a plan to kick-start investment by merging the country’s two biggest landline networks.
“Some families still don’t own a computer,” said Capitanio. “The government has been forced to step in and tackle this social emergency.”
Europe’s internet infrastructure is riddled with gaps and bottlenecks, exposed over the past seven months