Italian operators kicked off comercial 5G offerings in parts of the country’s main cities during the second half of 2019 and have already announced plans to rapidly expand coverage during 2020.
Vodafone was the first operator to offer commercial 5G services in Italy. The telco, owned by UK telecommunications group Vodafone Group, launched the technology in five cities across the country in June 2019.
Initially, the 5G service was available in Milan, Turin, Bologna, Rome and Naples. The company used equipment from Nokia and Huawei for the deployment of commercial 5G.
At the time of the launch, Vodafone Italy said it expects to add around 45 to 50 cities to 5G coverage during 2020. Aldo Bisio, Vodafone Italy’s CEO said that the telco’s 5G technology will reach more than 100 Italian cities by 2021.
Rival operator Telecom Italia (TIM) had previously announced that it expects to provide 5G technology in at least 120 cities and 200 tourist destinations across Italy by 2021.
By that year, TIM also plans to provide 5G coverage for 245 industrial districts and 200 specific projects for big businesses.
The carrier initially launched 5G services in parts of Turin, Rome and Naples in July 2019. TIM’s 5G offering was also expected to cover Milan, Bologna, Verona, Florence, Matera and Bari by the end of 2019. The telco also announced plans to cover 30 tourist destinations throughout Italy, 50 industrial districts and complete 30 dedicated 5G projects for large companies by December 2019.
The operator said that the speed of the 5G service will be increasing progressively up to 10 Gbps by 2021. TIM previously said that its 5G services will be offered through spectrum in the 700 MHz, 3.6-3.8 GHz and 26.5-27.5 GHz bands.
In this initial phase TIM is deploying Ericsson’s 3GPP standards-based Non-Standalone 5G portfolio from Ericsson Radio System, supported through a software upgrade of their existing 5G Core network.
In June 2019, local operators Wind Tre and Fastweb announced a strategic agreement leveraging on the operators’ respective assets in order to accelerate the rollout of a nationwide 5G network.
The agreement will lead to the rapid deployment of a shared 5G radio access and back-hauling network in Italy that will support the delivery of next-generation mobile services for Fastweb and Wind Tre customers.
The shared 5G network will include Wind Tre and Fastweb macro and small cells, connected through dark fiber from Fastweb, to be deployed nationwide, with a targeted coverage of 90% of the population by 2026. Under the terms of the deal, Wind Tre will manage the 5G network, while both operators will remain independent in the commercial and operational use of the shared infrastructure
In 2018, Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development announced the completion of the national 5G spectrum tender, in which the government raised a total of EUR 6.55 billion (currently $7.36 billion).
In the process, local carriers Telecom Italia, Wind Tre, Vodafone Italia, Fastweb and Iliad secured spectrum in the 694-790 MHz, 26.5-27.5 GHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands.
TIM paid EUR 2.4 billion for 80 megahertz in the 3.7 GHz band MHz, 200 megahertz in the 26 GHz band and 20 megahertz in 700 MHz band.
Rival operator Vodafone Italia also paid EUR 2.4 billion for a similar amount of spectrum in the same frequency bands.
Newcomer Iliad Italia spent EUR 1.2 billion to acquire 5G spectrum, while Wind Tre acquired licenses at a value of EUR 517 million. Iliad won 200 megahertz in the 26 GHz band, alongside its 20 megahertz of 3.7GHz and 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band. Wind Tre acquired 20 megahertz of 3.7 GHz and 200 megahertz in the 26 GHz band.
5G licenses are valid for 19 years, with the exception of the licenses in the 700 MHz band, which will not be released until 2022 and will be valid for 15 and a half years.
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