According to local media reports Vodafone Italy has selected Ivrea, a town in the north-west of the country, as the first location to gain access to its in-deployment Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. Although details on the launch remain scarce, it has been reported that the move has been enabled by the provision of an experimental licence that allows the cellco to deploy LTE services using 1800MHz spectrum usually reserved for GSM services. Previously, the company staged a series of LTE trials at a selection of the nation’s football stadia, starting with Torino’s Stadio Olimpico. Maximum downlink transmission speeds of 100Mbps were made available to users. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in November 2011 Stefano Parisse, director of Strategy and New Business at Vodafone Italy, confirmed that his company intended to commence its EUR1 billion (USD1.38 billion) rollout in 2012, with a ‘massive launch’ to follow in 2013.
In late-September 2011, after 22 days and 469 separate rounds of bidding, Italy’s Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico (Ministry of Economic Development, MdSE) confirmed that the country’s LTE spectrum auction finally closed, with all four mobile network operators – Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), Vodafone, Wind Italy and 3 Italia – submitting combined bids worth in excess of EUR3.9 billion. For its part Vodafone secured three blocks of 2.6GHz spectrum, paying around EUR36 million per allocation, also going on to acquire two blocks of 800MHz spectrum as well as frequencies in the 1800MHz band, which were valued at EUR159 million.