Italian operator aims to speed up rollout of high-speed broadband infrastructure in rural areas by bringing in new investor.

Telecom Italia this week unveiled plans to accelerate the rollout of ultrafast broadband and revealed that it is seeking a partner to help it cover uneconomic areas.

The Italian incumbent, known as TIM, aims to create a new company that will focus on the selective development of fibre infrastructure in rural and less economically viable regions. It is in the process of selecting a financial partner that will take a majority stake in that company, it announced on Thursday, alongside the publication of its annual report.

It is already in the process of setting up the new business and aims to identify a suitable partner "in the coming months," it said, in a statement.

"Creating this partnership will mean that, through the new company, TIM will be able to achieve its targets to cover the country with ultrabroadband almost two years ahead of the schedule set out in the three-year plan," the telco said, in a statement, referring to its 2017-19 strategic plan.

Bringing in an investor will enable TIM to cover 95% of the Italian population by mid-2018, rising to 99%, including wireless connections, in 2019 without raising capex.

The telco confirmed that it will offer wholesale connections to other providers, "guaranteeing equal treatment."

Italy is fast becoming a high-speed broadband battleground, with two major companies investing in the rollout of networks.

TIM faces competition from energy company Enel, which is also building out a wholesale fibre network alongside its electricity infrastructure.