5G approval means Swisscom’s Fastweb will join Italy market

5G approval means Swisscom’s Fastweb will join Italy’s mobile market

01 August 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Swisscom’s Italian fibre company Fastweb is to become the fifth mobile operator in Italy, following government approval.

The Italian Ministry of Economic Development (Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico, MiSE) has authorised the company to build a 5G network using spectrum in the 3.5-3.6MHz band acquired from Tiscali and the 26GHz band acquired last year in Italy’s auction.

“We have always been an operator on the fixed network with a latest-generation fibre network,” said CEO Alberto Calcagno (pictured). “Now we also become mobile, relying on all our infrastructure assets to play a leading role in view of the arrival of 5G.”

Fastweb, which has been controlled by Swisscom since 2007, is already a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), but now the company will run its own infrastructure-based network.

Last month Fastweb announced a network-sharing deal with CK Hutchison’s Wind Tre “to accelerate the roll-out of a nationwide, state-of-the art 5G network”. Fastweb said then that “the shared 5G network will include Wind Tre and Fastweb macro and small cells, connected through dark fibre from Fastweb, to be deployed nationwide, with a targeted coverage of 90% of the population by 2026”.

Now the approval of the MiSE means Fastweb can go ahead to build and market its own 5G services. Calcagno said: “The authorisation of the Ministry of Economic Development marks for us the final step by which we add the last piece to our convergent strategy.”

It means Fastweb will be able to compete with TIM and Vodafone as well as with Wind Tre, and with French-owned Iliad, which started up in the market when Wind – then owned by Veon – merged with Hutch’s Tre.