AGCOM to launch 5G spectrum auction as TIM unveils latest 5G trials

29 May 2018 | James Pearce

Italy is set to launch an auction of 5G spectrum in September, with regulator Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) looking to raise around €2.5 billion for the government.

The iniative is part of Italy’s plans to make the Mediterranean country into one of the European leaders when it comes to 5G deployment, with tests by major carriers already underway

The likes of Telecom Italia (TIM), which owns Sparkle, Vodafone, Wind-Tre and Fastweb will all be expected to join the auction when it launches in September.

An AGCOM statement released last week said new rules for the auction would aim to bring new players into the market, including companies offering purely infrastructure. This could include the likes of Open Fiber, which is currently constructing a new fibre wholesale network aimed at competing with TIM.

Agcom said the country’s Ministry of Economic Development will organise the tender, which will cover the auction of frequencies in 694MHz to 790MHz; 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz; and 26.5GHz to 27.5GHz bands. Two blocks of 80MHz and two blocks of 20MHz will be made available in the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz bands, while five lots of 200MHz will be available in the 26.5GHz to 27.5GHz bands.

The announcement came as TIM presented its first field applications based on 5G in a trial with Huawei and Fastweb. The trial involved demonstrations of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies and is one month ahead of schedule, TIM said.

The demonstration of the first scenarios of live use – just after the first 5G antennas in Bari and Matera were switched on – marks a key point for the project, which aims to reach 75% of the population in the two cities already by the end this year, to reach full coverage by 2019.

The potential of the 5G network was shown during a press conference in terms of transmission capacity, significant decrease in latency and directionality of the signal on moving terminals through the first VR applications.

"The new 5G network of Bari and Matera is one of the first installations in Europe and in the world through which we can offer innovative and excellent performance, bringing about new scenarios in which it can be applied," states Saverio Orlando, TIM Technology Manager. 

"The new low latency and high speed mobile technology, supported by the fibre optic network, allows us to create an innovative ecosystem that involves all industrial and service processes, with a particular focus on the development of new services related to tourism and Industry 4.0, as well as public safety and transport, thus creating digital value for the cities involved and for the entire country."

The European Union set out plans for 5G deployment in 2016, aiming for coverage in all urban areas across the bloc by 2025. US firms have aimed to rollout some services by the end of 2018, with large-scale deployments due to start in 2019.

The UK has already auctioned some 5G spectrum bands, while German is set to hold an auction in 2019, aiming to finalise the conditions for the auction later this year.

Topics: TIM, AGCOM, Italy, Fastweb, Huawei, 5G, Vodafone Italia, Wind-Tre