Apparently being a small territory gets you advanced wireless services in Europe. The Republic of San Marino says it will be the first state in Europe to have a 5G mobile network thanks to Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM).
TIM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of the Republic of San Marino, a microstate surrounded by Italy that is just 24 square miles across and among the oldest republics.
To start things off, TIM will update mobile sites with 4.5G and start introducing things like 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation, “superior” modulation and cloud architecture, as well as small cells. According to the announcement, the small cells will use low power masts with low environmental impact on the principal streets and piazzas of the historical center of San Marino.
Giovanni Ferigo, head of technology for Telecom Italia Mobile, said San Marino’s 5G network would be the first in Europe “for sure,” the Financial Times reported.
There is precedent for micro regions being first with next-gen wireless. The first 3G trial in the U.K. was held on the Isle of Man, and the publication also noted that the remote island of Bute in Scotland was used to test white space technology.
The plan for San Marino calls for testing 5G technology on a national scale within the next year and introducing on both mobile sites and small cells the additional frequencies dedicated to the new 5G New Radio (NR) interface that will enable broader bandwidths. Combined with techniques like Massive MIMO and beamforming, it will allow the system to reach performance levels not yet seen by today’s mobile technology.
TIM also plans to use the experiment to contribute to the definition of the 5G standard. The aim is to make available a new mobile infrastructure with about 10 times the capacity of 4G and the ability to connect a very large number of objects, well ahead of the 2020 European Union deadline.
The European Commission has set a 2020 deadline for 5G to be commercially available in at least one major city in each EU member state.
In the U.S., Verizon has indicated it will launch fixed wireless services using its 5G network technology standard sometime next year after tests in 11 markets this year. AT&T has said that the delivery of standards-based 5G mobile networks could come as early as late 2018, and it’s launching more than 20 “5G Evolution” markets this year.
T-Mobile is going for breadth, announcing in May that it was the first U.S. wireless company to disclose plans for truly nationwide 5G. The “un-carrier” said it will use a portion of its low-band 600 MHz spectrum to deliver 5G coverage from coast to coast.
Sprint, along with parent company Softbank and technology partner Qualcomm Technologies, agreed to develop technologies for 5G, including the 3GPP 5G NR standard in Band 41 (2.5 GHz), with a target of providing commercial services and devices in late 2019.