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Italy - Internet

As compared to other European countries, the development of Internet services in Italy has been quite slow in the last few years. At present, Internet access has been made available to home and business users in the form of dial-up, optic fiber, cable, DSL and wireless connections. However, access to the internet depends entirely on the location. Though email correspondence, search engines, social networking and GPS have become a part of everyday life in the cities, only about 50% of the Italian population uses the internet on a weekly basis.

Broadband and Wifi services are available in almost all the major Italian cities. Many of the small towns and villages still operate only on dial-up or ISDN access though. Some of the rural areas do have satellite internet but it turns out to be a very expensive option. Internet prices in Italy are among the highest in Europe (at par with Estonia & Cyprus), yet the speed is a major source of concern to most businesses.

Free wi-fi hotspots are not as prevalent in Italy as they are in the US, UK and Canada. Fortunately, there are a few public places in the cities, where people can connect to the net on their mobile phones and laptops, without paying anything. Everyone, including expats, must have an Italian cell phone number to take advantage of the free service. Log on to http://freewifiwiki.net/index.php?title=Italy for a list of bars, cafes, hotels and shops providing free internet in Italy.

According to http://www.netindex.com the average download and upload speed in Italy is much lower that the global average. While the global download speed is 18.4 Mb/s or so, in Italy it is around 8.5 Mb/s. Similarly, the average uploading speed is approximately 8.2 Mb/s globally but only about 2.0 Mb/s in Italy. Surveys also indicate that Italy’s DSL has a long way to go before it can be at par with the rest of the Eurozone.

Italian Internet industry is mainly dominated by Telecom Italia but there are numerous other providers. Some of the popular ISPs are –

Telecom Italia
Tel: 800 447 788 / 800 187 800 / 800 134 134 / 800 254 232 / 800 414 472
URL: http://www.telecomitalia.it

Tel: +39 02 897481 (Registered office)/ +39 0183 7481 (Headquarters)
URL: http://www.uno.it

Tel: +39 0187 1852991
URL: http://www.ariatel.it

Tel: 133 / 139 (for business customers)
URL: http://www.tre.it/internet

Tel: 155
URL: http://www.wind.it

This is not an exhaustive list; Libero, Tiscali, Vodafone, Fastweb and Poste Mobile also provide internet services in different regions across the country.

Not all Italians have access to the internet through their desktop or laptop at home and need to visit a cyber café when required. Internet bars are only seen in most of the major cities. This is because of the amendment of the Anti-Terrorism law in 2005, after the attacks on London and Madrid. A detailed region-wise list of cyber cafes can be accessed on http://cafe.ecs.net/map.htm

In the last few years, many people have started browsing the Internet (without a computer) using their smart-phones. Most of the cellular service providers therefore have various mobile data packages which allow the users to access hi-speed Internet from any part of the country. In areas with poor network though, connectivity could be limited. At times, computer users connect to their mobile devices for faster internet access. While this type of internet connection is usually faster and more reliable, it could result in a very high mobile bill.

Almost anyone can sign up for an Internet connection with the service provider of their choice by logging on to their website and clicking on the “abbobato” link. Interested customers have to enter their Codice Fiscal, address and preferred package. It could take anywhere between a few days and a couple of weeks for an internet service pack to be connected and activated.

At times, Internet companies call potential clients to inform them about available offers. Some of them could be fraudulent though and therefore, all offers should be checked thoroughly before signing a contract. The safest way to confirm the terms and conditions of any contract is through the company’s website.

Italian web users have unrestricted access to most sites, as the internet laws are quite liberal in this country. Online filtering has been applied to sites that show any kind of child pornography. Some peer-to-peer sites have also been blocked in order to curb piracy. The government has placed pervasive filters on gambling websites that do not have a license to operate in Italy. The internet usage isn’t otherwise controlled or censored by the authorities.

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