Netflix to launch in Italy – but can the net cope?

Netflix to launch in Italy - but can the net cope?
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the service will be available in Italy from October. Photo: Stephane De Sakutin/AFP
Netflix, the on-demand TV and internet streaming service, will be available in Italy from October. But the main thing casting a shadow over the move is Italy's notoriously slow internet connection.

Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, made the announcement in an interview with Wired magazine.

While the cost of the service to subscribers in Italy was not revealed, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that it would cost around €8 a month.

Netflix's arrival in Italy marks another moment in the company's expansion into continental Europe. At present, the service is available in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

But competition from Netflix will be seen as bad news for more expensive online SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) services already operating in Italy, such as Sky and Mediaset Premium.

At present, an estimated 1.5 million users already use SVOD in Italy. Globally, Netflix currently has more than 60 million users and earned a staggering $1.57 billion dollars in the first three months of this year.

But Italy's notoriously slow internet connection may prove frustrating for subscribers in parts of the country, and will likely put more pressure on the government to get it up to speed with the rest of Europe.

According to figures by netindex, a website that keeps track of internet speeds across the world, the average broadband speed in Italy is 11.6 Mbps, which compares unfavourably with neighbouring countries such as France (45 Mbps) and Spain (35.8 Mbps).

But Italy's main problem is not so much low speed. Urban centres such as Turin, Milan and Rome fare quite well, but there is an uneven distribution of bandwidth across the country.

In May, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced plans to upgrade the country's communication infrastructure so that Italy is covered by “ultra-broadband” by 2020.

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