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Italy gets a new digital head honcho

Italy's prime minister has picked telecoms stalwart Francesco Caio to take the reins on the country's Digital Agenda.
Written by Cristina Prina Ricotti, Contributor

While Italy's prime minister Enrico Letta has enough on his plate keeping the unstable coalition government on track and dealing with the political legacy of his predecessors, he's still found time to tackle the progress of the country's Digital Agenda — or lack thereof.

The Digital Agenda, adopted by the Italian government last year, is aimed at stimulating the country's growth through a series of measures in areas such as broadband and mobile infrastructure, egovernment, digital skills and smart cities.

Last week, on his official Twitter account, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of Italy's "Mr Digital Agenda".

"I asked Francesco #Caio to come to #PalazzoChigi [the official residence of the prime minister] to be Mister #DigitalAgenda. It's a mission I want to give maximum support to," he tweeted.

Caio is a Naples native with a telecoms background, who sits on the board of directors of a number communications companies. Caio was CEO of Omnitel (now Vodafone Italia) between 1993 and 1996, CEO of Cable & Wireless between 2003 and 2006 and a consultant to the Italian and UK governments on defining a strategy to develop broadband networks in the late 1990s.

But despite his numerous professional achievements, Caio is best known in Italy for his report on the country's digital divide, which was delivered to the government in March 2009 and caused a stir when it leaked later that year.

The report described the difficult situation Italy found itself in, underlining how the country was already falling behind on issues including ADSL.

Furthermore, back in 2009, Caio alerted the government that the country's old copper networks needed to be upgraded, while at the same time highlighting that fibre broadband is seen as a necessity for any modern European country .

Letta's appointment of Caio is seen as an acknowledgment by part of the government of the  pivotal role that the Digital Agenda, innovation strategies and improving the country's communications infrastructure could have in Italy's economic recovery.

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