TIM builds bundles for business, backs tech startup fund

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Mar 30, 2021

  • Italian national operator is pulling together an enterprise-oriented digital bundle
  • Combines connectivity with edge, IoT, security and international services
  • Pumps tens of millions of euros into tech investment fund
  • And strikes Serie A football coverage deal with DAZN

TIM (Telecom Italia) is ending the first quarter of 2021 with a flurry of activity that aims to provide more attractive services for its business and consumer customers and support technology innovation in Europe.

The support for innovative technology startups comes in the form of a €60 million injection into UV T-Growth, a venture capital fund run by United Ventures. The Italian operator, through its TIM Ventures unit, is the “anchor investor” in the fund, which has already raised €100 million of its €180 million fund target. 

UV T-Growth plans to provide “late-stage investments in innovative European companies with high growth potential,” with cash injections of €10-15 million in promising startups focused on areas such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence, network infrastructure, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, cloud, Industry 4.0, data/analytics, fintech, SaaS, and gaming.

"We believe that venture capital is the right tool to accelerate innovation, and United Ventures is the ideal partner to accompany us on this journey,” stated Carlo Tursi, CEO of TIM Ventures. “The launch of UV T-Growth confirms our commitment to developing innovative services, applications, and technologies based on 5G and all ultra-broadband network infrastructures. In line with TIM's 2021-2023 strategic plan, 'Beyond Connectivity,' through TIM Ventures, we will do our part to develop technologies such as Cloud, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity to support the growth of the entire digital ecosystem."

It'll be interesting to see if UV T-Growth finds any Open RAN technology developers to back, as TIM has committed to helping invest in the European Open RAN tech ecosystem as part of its involvement in The Implementation of Open RAN Based Networks In Europe initiative. (See TIM joins Euro telco Open RAN party.)

Enterprise market focus

TIM has also just launched Smart District, a bundle of services and capabilities for business users designed to accelerate the “digitisation” of Italy’s “economic and industrial fabric.”

Also linked to the operator’s 'Beyond Connectivity' strategy, TIM is bundling broadband access services (fibre, 5G, fixed wireless access, even satellite) with cloud and edge services from its recently formed multi-cloud-focused unit Noovle, IoT services and expertise from Olivetti, cybersecurity from Telsy, and international connectivity from its Sparkle subsidiary. (See TIM takes a Noovle approach to cloud and the edge.)

Further details about Smart District can be found in this announcement.  

There’s little doubt that enterprises want to see bundles of services that make sense and meet their needs, but all of the parties involved in providing the various parts of this bundle are units or subsidiaries of TIM: What would be more impressive would be in the operator was to team up with third party companies that can deliver tailored expertise for enterprise in particular verticals and deliver the bundles seamlessly and easily for the enterprise customers via a single support team and bill.

Consumer market focus

For its residential customers, TIM has teamed up with global sports streaming TV specialist DAZN to provide its customers with the holy grail of Italian sports, Serie A football. 

DAZN was recently awarded the TV rights to Serie A for the next three seasons, 2021-2024, for a reported €2.5 billion: About 5 million Italian households tune in to watch the games via satellite TV currently.

Now TIM has struck a deal to broadcast the Serie A games to its TIMVISION customers, which will increasingly involve delivering the Serie A games over TIM’s broadband networks, a move the operator and DAZN believe will help to “combat piracy.” For further details, see this press release.  

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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