MdSE taps Huawei to conduct 800MHz LTE study

27 Jun 2012

According to local press reports, Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development (MdSE) has enlisted Chinese telecoms equipment vendor Huawei Technologies to perform a study into the impact of using spectrum in the 800MHz frequency band for the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. The ministry has deemed the trial an important step towards the introduction of 4G in Italy, with a provisional January 2013 launch date mentioned. The selection of Huawei as the sole company in charge of the study has been credited to its status as the first vendor to trial LTE in Italy, when it tested the technology in association with Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) in December 2009, achieving maximum downlink transmission speeds of 140Mbps. The distribution of Italy’s 800MHz frequencies remains something of a moot point after a number of domestic TV stations exhibited a reluctance to free up the relevant frequencies last summer. Broadcasters were allocated around 10% of the proceeds of the spectrum sale as compensation for freeing the spectrum, but Filippo Rebecchini, chairman of Italy’s Radio Television Association, indicated that the government should double its offer to convince the 100-plus broadcasters that his group represents to vacate their sought-after frequencies. Rebecchini commented: ‘First they should free up the spectrum, then sell it. You can get a lot more for a vacant house than for one with a tenant’.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in September 2011, after 22 days and 469 separate rounds of bidding, the MdSE confirmed that the country’s spectrum auction had finally closed, with the four mobile network operators – TIM, Vodafone Italy, Wind Comunicazioni (Wind Italy) and 3 Italia – submitting combined bids worth in excess of EUR3.9 billion (USD4.9 billion). Alongside spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 1800MHz bands, Vodafone, TIM and Wind all acquired two blocks of 800MHz spectrum apiece, with prices ranging from EUR481.7 million to EUR496.1 million.