TIM and its partners have submitted their bid in the tender for Italy’s cloud hub project, and it’s a tender they are likely confident of winning, given that they essentially designed it.

Meanwhile, France’s Iliad has posted its latest set of full-year results that show, amongst other things, the impact it is having on the Italian mobile market. We’ll get to that later but for now a hint: Iliad’s winning customers at the expense of its longer-established rivals.

But first to the cloud project, or the project designed to bring about the creation of a National Strategic Hub, to give it its full title. The NSH (or PSN – Polo Strategico Nazionale – as it is known in Italy) is a key tenet of the Italian Cloud Strategy presented by Technological Innovation and Digital Transition Minister Vittorio Colao in September, which itself comes under Italy’s EU-funded post-pandemic National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). The NSH is essentially a new IT infrastructure for Italy’s public administrations that will be run by four data centres in two regions.

The first phase of the NSH project saw a TIM-led grouping beat off competition from two other public-private partnerships to set out the method of implementation for the NSH. Stage two, for which TIM and its partners have now lodged their bid, involves the selection of the group that will carry out that implementation.

As it announced last year, TIM is working with shareholder and state-owned lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), defence group Leonardo, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s technology arm Sogei. The companies confirmed that they have bid for the tender, but – naturally – did not disclose the details of their proposal.

“The offer envisages that, in the event of the tender award, a joint venture will be set up between the team members in the form of a joint stock company for provision of cloud solutions and services in support of the Public Administration in order to ensure the highest possible data efficiency, security and reliability standards,” they said.

We already know that TIM intends to take a 45% stake in any resulting JV.

Given that the companies in question in essence designed the cloud hub, they have to be reasonably confident of winning it, but there are no guarantees in this industry. We should know soon enough though, since the hub is scheduled to be up and running, ready for the migration of the first public authorities, by the end of this year.

In the meantime, TIM has plenty to occupy its thoughts. Aside from the discussions it is now holding with prospective buyer KKR and its plans to split its business in two, hiving off its fixed network assets, the incumbent still has fiercely competitive domestic mobile market to address, a fact that once again came into sharp relief this week when rival and market disruptor Iliad posted its full-year financials.

The French telco group has had a solid year, claiming “strong performances at all levels and in all of our geographies.” Revenues, earnings and customer numbers were up and leverage improved.

Highlights include a 51% hike in consolidated EBITDAaL, with growth coming from all three markets – France, Italy and Poland – and a 5.5% like-for-like increase in service revenues.

On that last point, much of the growth came from Italy, which reported an increase of 21.9%. Italy also improved its net loss by 40% to €248 million and saw a considerable uptick in mobile customers.

“In Italy, despite ongoing fierce competition, we were able to sign up 1.3 million new subscribers during the year,” it said, with no nod to the fact that it essentially created that competition.

That figure looks particularly good when compared to rivals. TIM lost almost three quarters of a million mobile customers last year, Vodafone shed over 1.6 million, and Wind Tre reported losing about half a million active mobile customers. While the big three can still be considered as such – their customer bases are all still fairly close to 20 million – Iliad is coming up fast with 8.5 million mobile customers at the end of last year.

The longer-established telcos are all working hard to mitigate the Iliad effect, but it’s clear from this latest results announcement that the French firm is still getting its own way in Italy.

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