Rothschild reportedly reaches out to more than 20 prospective investors on behalf of incumbent.

Telecom Italia plans to contact a shortlist of prospective partners for its rural broadband network next week.

Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday that Rothschild has already reached out to 20 potential investors on behalf of the incumbent, including infrastructure funds, sovereign wealth funds, and private equity firms.

That list will be whittled down to a select few that will be sent further information about the proposal. According to the report, Telecom Italia intends to make a final choice before the summer; the partner will take a majority stake in the venture.

Last week, the incumbent unveiled plans to accelerate the deployment of ultrafast broadband by creating a new company focused on rolling out wholesale fibre networks in rural areas and less economically viable regions.

Telecom Italia said bringing in an investor will enable it to cover 95% of the population by mid-2018, rising to 99%, including wireless connections, by 2019 without raising capex.

The plan will also help the operator fend off competition from the likes of Enel, which is building out wholesale fibre infrastructure alongside its electricity network.