According to local press reports, 3 Italia – the mobile operator controlled by Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa – has inaugurated its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the village of Acuto, in the province of Frosinone, which previously lacked broadband connectivity. The launch event was attended by 3 Italia CEO Vincenzo Novari, along with the mayor of Acuto, Augusto Agostini, and famous astronaut Umberto Guidoni, who was born locally. Explaining the unusual launch location, Novari commented: ‘Our choice was to start from a small town – the first of a series of forty municipalities [affected by] the digital divide – that will connect together large urban areas by 2013’. Prominent locations such as Rome and Milan are earmarked for connectivity in December. 3’s 4G network, which is capable of delivering theoretical maximum transmission speeds of 100Mbps (downlink) and 50Mbps (uplink) was exhibited with a high-definition video link-up between Italy and Hong Kong, in which Hutchison CEO Canning Fok chortled: ‘I love Italy. I love spaghetti!’
The launch means that 3 has effectively beaten rival Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) to the punch. Italy’s largest cellco by subscribers will launch LTE services on 7 November, covering Milan, Turin, Rome and Naples. Vodafone was the first Italian mobile operator to introduce 4G technology to the market, inaugurating its network in Rome and Milan on 30 October.