Telecom Italia Mobile’s (TIM) chief executive Marco De Benedetti has told Italian business paper Il Sole 24 Ore that he expects his company to have garnered a 50% share of the country’s burgeoning 3G market by the end of 2006. TIM launched UMTS services twelve months ago and currently has coverage of 60% of the population. However, its 3G user base currently languishes some way behind Hutchison Whampoa’s H3G unit, which accounts for more than 90% of Italy’s UMTS subscribers. De Bendetti says that after a slow start he expects half of all TIM handsets sold over this year’s Christmas holiday period to be tied to 3G price plans. He added that TIM expects to achieve 80% UMTS network coverage by the end of 2007, by which time tariffs will have fallen by around 5%.