Telecom Italia to 'radically' upgrade mobile data network

Italy's largest mobile operator, Telecom Italia, has announced plans to 'radically' upgrade its mobile network to handle significant growth in data traffic. The country's telecoms regulator warned mobile operators in July that they could see their networks collapse due to smartphone traffic unless they were quick to upgrade.

The company's CEO, Franco Bernabe, said that it would start offering 21Mbps mobile broadband services in Milan and Rome in December, with an upgrade to a 42Mbps service scheduled for the end of 2011. The exec made no mention of the technology involved (although HSPA+ seems the most likely), or suppliers of the infrastructure.

According to Oscar Cicchetti, Telecom Italia's head of technology and operation, the company expected its mobile network to carry around 60 petabytes of traffic this year, growing to over 100 petabytes in 2011. But in an effort to reassure subscribers and the regulator, Cicchetti said: "There's no concern of a collapse of the mobile network."

Bernabe stated that the cost of the upgrade, which would be gradually rolled out across the country, had already been included within the company's three-year investment plan.

The CEO added: "In terms of usage of large screen tablets while on the go, we're only second to the UK (in Europe), but if the trend continues, we'll be in first place."

Vodafone Italy, one of Telecom Italia's key competitors in the mobile market, said earlier this month it would invest around €1 billion to boost mobile broadband coverage in Italy over the next three to four years.

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