Telecom Italia (TIM) and Vodafone Italy are rumoured to be discussing a 5G infrastructure sharing deal which would allow them to reduce deployment costs and speed up their network rollouts. A report from Bloomberg, which cites ‘people with knowledge of the situation’, says that the two companies have signed a non-disclosure agreement about the potential collaboration on a 5G network, with the aim of reaching a deal in the first quarter of 2019. The partnership would likely incorporate the shared use of network towers and radio equipment, but could also extend to sharing wireless spectrum.
Vodafone and TIM were the two highest bidders in the recent auction of 5G licences in Italy, paying EUR4.8 billion (USD5.4 billion) between them.
Separately, TIM has joined Vodafone and rival operator Iliad Italy to threaten legal action against the planned extension of 3.5GHz wireless broadband concessions. Iliad said last month that it would proceed with legal action in Italy’s regional court (Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale, TAR) if the country’s telecoms regulator proceeds with its plan to extend licences held by Tiscali, GO internet, Linkem and Mandarin by six years to 2029. That position is now supported by its two larger rivals who are also unhappy that 3.5GHz licensees are being offered licence extensions when other operators paid billions of euros for 5G spectrum, including frequencies in the adjacent 3.7GHz band.