Not bad for one of the smallest countries in the world. The Republic of San Marino now holds the distinction of being the first state in the European continent to have a full fledged 5G wireless network. This will be made possible through Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM). The Italian telecoms giant has recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the San Marino government to start transitioning the microstate’s wireless infrastructure into a 5G compatible one.
For those not familiar with San Marino, it is a country that is located right in the middle of Italy, with a population of just over 33,000 (as of last year’s count). With a state this size, many would be right in assuming that setting up a 5G network in San Marino would be less challenging compared to doing so in a big country like, say, the United States.
Still, it is not always as easy as it sounds. For TIM, it will kick off things by updating San Marino’s wireless sites with 4.5G, and then begin rolling out things like 4 X 4 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), carrier aggregation, enhanced modulation, and cloud architecture, plus of course, small cell deployments. As explained by the Italian wireless service provider, the role of the small cells is to take full advantage of low power masts with low environmental impact on the major streets and public squares, especially in the country’s historical center.
Although other places in the world are also joining in on the 5G race, San Marino is quite confident that it will beat everyone else to the finish line, or at least in Europe. According to a report recently published by the Financial Times, Giovanni Ferigo, the head of technology at TIM, the 5G network at San Marino will be the first of its kind among European states.
TIM is looking to have 5G trials (scaled for the entire nation) up and running by 2018, as well as starting to integrate additional frequencies to both wireless sites and small cells. These frequencies will be dedicated to the new 5G New Radio (NR) interface that is designed to support broader bandwidths. When fused with other forms of technology, such as beamforming and Massive MIMO, 5G NR will grant the system the capability to achieve network performance levels never made possible yet by current 4G networks.
TIM’s 5G tests will also serve another purpose -- to contribute further to defining the 5G standard. Basically the overall plan is to set up a new wireless architecture that will deliver ten fold the current capacity of 4G networks, as well as the ability to handle a big volume of connecting devices, and they need to figure everything out before the 2020 European Union deadline.
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