TIM passes 2 Gbps barrier, claims European 5G speed record

TIM launched 5G in Italy last year using 3.7 GHz spectrum for commercial service in Rome, Turin and Naples. (Getty Images)

Italy’s Telecom Italia says it surpassed the 2 Gbps threshold over a live 5G network, claiming a new record for 5G speeds in Europe.

The connection was completed over a 26 GHz millimeter wave frequency, with partners Ericsson and Qualcomm. TIM beat the 2 Gbps barrier using an Askey CPE RTL0200 powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G Modem-RF System.

TIM said the connection was made on a 3GPP-standards based nonstandalone solution that enables devices and network components from different providers to interact with and aggregate TIM’s current 4G and 5G network.

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“This milestone paves the way to the development of new 5G solutions to grant fixed ultrabroadband to families, companies and public authorities not yet covered,” said Michele Gamberini, TIM’s Chief Technology and Information Officer, in a statement. “This also includes coverage dedicated to the development of robotics and automation digital services in the smart manufacturing area.”

The operator said achieving gigabit speeds with high-band mmWave frequencies helps further the development of 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) services in areas not yet covered, as well as the creation of dedicated 5G indoor coverage.

Enrico Salvatori, president of Qualcomm EMEA congratulated TIM on the achievement in a statement, saying it “again demonstrates the potential of 5G mmWave technology, and shows how operators are able to use a wide range of spectrum bands to deploy 5G. 2020 will see a significant expansion in 5G coverage, and the use of mmWave bands will play a clear role in the build-out.”

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TIM won 200 megahertz of 26 GHz spectrum at Italy’s 2018 spectrum auction. It tapped an additional 200 megahertz (for 400-megahertz total) available under the bid’s "26 GHz Club Use," which lets 5G spectrum assignee winners use the full 1 GHz available in the band if not used by other assignees.

The operator noted that performance will improve significantly this year when the network will be able to tap up to 800 megahertz, and afterward up to 1,000 MHz.   

Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE) raised about $7.56 billion from its 5G spectrum auction, including EUR 2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) paid by TIM. In addition to the 26 GHz spectrum, TIM also came away with 80 megahertz in the 3.7 GHz band, and 20 megahertz in the 700 MHz band.

Rival Vodafone Italia scooped up roughly the same amount of spectrum for a similar sum during the auction. Last year the pair inked a network sharing deal to pool their combined 22,000 towers and jointly deploy infrastructure to help accelerate respective 5G rollouts.

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“This agreement will enable us to step up the rollout of 5G for the benefit of our customers and the community as a whole,” said Vodafone Italia Aldo Bisio, in a statement announcing sharing agreement. “Network sharing reaps the benefits of 5G and at the same time reduces the impact on the environment and lowers rollout costs, allowing more investment in services for customers.”

TIM launched 5G in Italy last year using its 3.7 GHz spectrum for commercial service in Rome, Turin and Naples. It aims to cover 120 cities, 200 holiday destinations and 245 industrial districts by 2021, along with 200 enterprise-specific projects.

The telecom operator can start utilizing its 700 MHz spectrum starting July 1.

In the U.S., peak speeds on Verizon’s commercial 5G network using millimeter wave spectrum clocked in above 2 Gbps in multiple cities over the summer.