A subsidiary of Melita Ltd. is expanding gigabit broadband and smart-home services outside its geographical footprint into Italy, a move that could mark the triple-play operator's first foray into a multi-country European strategy that competes against other providers targeting the fast-growing connected home market.
Wholly owned subsidiary Melita Italia will use Italy's Open Fiber wholesale network to start offering gigabit broadband and smart-home bundled services in four Italian cities (Catania, Palermo, Milan and Naples) beginning this April, eventually expanding to a much broader presence in Italy and beyond its headquarters in Malta. By year-end 2021, Melita Italia expects its services to reach more than 30 cities and 3,000 sales points, the company reported. The offering will feature Plume -- a Melita service bundle that includes Adaptive WiFi, HomePass guest access, advanced parental controls, the Plume app and SuperPods that learn and adapt to a home's needs to make WiFi faster, safer and more reliable, according to the operator.
"This is a significant milestone for Melita, a business built in Malta, which is now expanding into new markets," said Harald Roesch, CEO at Melita Ltd., in a statement. "While our core business will remain in Malta, Italy presents an excellent opportunity for growth as millions of homes gain access to the Open Fiber network."
A wholesale opportunity
As executive chairman of Melita Italia, Riccardo Ruggiero is leading the charge -- and the partnership with wholesaler Open Fiber.
"Melita has a great opportunity to grow in Italy as the country's super-fast Fiber internet network enters a phase of rapid expansion," he said in a statement. "Working together with Open Fiber, I am very much looking forward to this new and exciting challenge."
The Italian government has urged the creation of a country-wide, high-speed, all-fiber optic network for the spectrum of users -- business, government and residential. Having divided the country up into four sectors -- A, B, C and D -- the government then assigned each municipality a cluster based on housing density, market size, existing broadband coverage and other factors. In turn, this determines the funding each will receive for infrastructure slated to encompass 271 Italian cities and about 7,000 municipalities. (See Open Fiber Inks Nokia Deal to Close Digital Divide.)
One continent, multiple choices
While it lags the United States and Asia-Pacific, Europe's hunger for smart-home solutions continues to steadily grow. By 2025, Europe will house 185 million smart-home units, compared with 86 million in 2018, according to Statista.
Global Smart Home Market 2013-2025 (in Millions of Units)
By the end of 2025, the European smart home market will reach $31.7 billion, versus $12.9 billion in 2017, predicted GMI Research. Drivers include real-time security, energy efficiency and healthcare solutions, the analysis firm determined.
"Smart lighting applications are witnessing significant growth in the European smart home market since energy saving is the driving trend … in the region. In 2017, about one- third of the market share in the Europe smart home market was held by the lighting applications market and it is expected that lighting applications will continue to dominate the market during the forecast period," the report said.
"Growing demand for personalized healthcare solutions, mobile healthcare facilities and fitness support systems are driving the home healthcare market," added GMI Research. "Home healthcare devices are experiencing significant growth from … devices which support remote monitoring of the disabled, elderly and children at home."
Service providers like Deutsche Telekom recognized these opportunities a while back, steadily ramping up partnerships and sales in numerous European countries. With Qivicon, its vendor-neutral smart-home platform, DT has teamed up with mobile operator Cosmote in Greece and Bitron Video in Italy, for example. (See Time Is Right for Telcos & Smart Homes.)
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.