In Italy, via a public tender the Ministry of Economic Development identified the 3.6-3.8 GHz band of the spectrum and made it available for pre-commercial 5G trials.

The tender was a response to the European Commission’s objective that at least one major city in every member state be “5G enabled” by the end of 2020 and that all urban areas and the main transport paths have uninterrupted 5G coverage by 2025.

Open Fiber and Wind Tre combined their expertise, infrastructure and investment capacity to participate in the public tender with a 5G City project which supplies innovative services with a major impact in terms of social and economic utility. On 22 September 2017, the Ministry of Economic Development sent its provisional authorisation to Open Fiber and Wind Tre for the development of a pre-commercial 5G trial in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band of the spectrum in area 2 – Prato and L’Aquila by exercising the right to use the 3.7 GHz to 3.8 GHz frequencies. The usage rights can be exercised exclusively with 5G technology solutions from the allocation date through to 30 June 2020.

Prato and L’Aquila, the “5G cities”

Despite having their own unique features, the two metropolitan areas share replicability characteristics and are well positioned to trial the so-called “5G City” model in which technology prioritises citizens and enables innovative services that can improve quality of life and work, such as telemedicine, advanced traffic systems, smart grid solutions, the evolution of the manufacturing industry and augmented realityAugmented reality A form of virtual reality in which computer-generated information elements are superimposed on the real scene perceived by a viewer. Applications based on augmented reality require the use of special glasses or devices with a camera such as a smartphone, so that images of reality can be overlaid with pictures, captions, and diagrams. Examples include applications that draw the outline of constellations by framing the stars in the night sky, games that immerse characters in an everyday environment, furniture simulators to display furniture inside empty houses, etc..

The trial will last 2 and-a-half years and will see Open Fiber and Wind Tre implement networkNetwork In computer language, the term network defines a set of hardware and software devices which, when linked together, enable the exchange and sharing of resources, data or information. In a computer network, the devices that generate, route and terminate data are called network nodes. technology solutions that trial two different network models: the neutral hostNeutral host Neutral host is a model designed to optimise the costs involved in providing cellular network signal coverage inside large buildings or for temporary events such as trade fairs or gatherings. In such cases, each Operator should set up its own infrastructure (masts, antennas, power, etc.). A neutral host solution would instead allow a single infrastructure to be set up and access to be sold to all interested Operators. model in the city of Prato (Open Fiber) and the vertically integrated operator model in the city of L’Aquila (Wind Tre).

In the neutral host (infrastructure owner) model proposed by Open Fiber it is the Operator that develops and manages the infrastructure, offering ‘slices’ of network capacity to the various 5G service providers – retail TLC operators, OTT content providers, businesses or local authorities – with the aim of providing services to the end user.

Thanks to synergic work between the neutral host, local public authorities and local businesses it is possible, on one hand, to develop a telecommunications network maximising the reuse of existing infrastructure and reducing its costs and, on the other, to provide services to local businesses and socially useful services to people, fostering the evolution of new business models.

The vertically integrated operator model proposed by Wind Tre to provide an end-to-end service to the final user will play a key role in the development of 5G networks, particularly in use cases where radio coverage and mobility are of key importance.

During the trial it will be important to assess the coexistence of 5G technology with the existing 4G network, the portability of services currently accessible on the LTELTE “Long Term Evolution”, i.e. the standard for high-speed wireless networks dedicated to mobile devices and based on GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA technologies. network and the improvements that can be made.

In the areas made available by the Ministry of Economic Development for the 5G trial in the cities of Prato and L’Aquila, the most suitable sites have been identified for offering next-generation services in both the historic centres, where the majority of the local authorities are based, and in some particularly important suburban areas due to the presence of business complexes or universities. When making these choices particular attention was also focused on the possibility of interconnecting the various sites using fiber optics in order to maximise network performance.