Italian carrier Wind Tre expects to fully complete a 5G trial with Chinese vendor ZTE before the end of this year, the operator’s CTO Benoit Hanssen told RCR Wireless News.
“Since 5G deployment picked up speed in 2017, the Italian government has piloted 5G in five cities. Wind Tre and local optic fiber network operator Open Fiber decided to collaborate with ZTE to deploy two 5G networks in L’Aquila and Prato. In October 2017, the three parties have jointly developed the first pre-commercial 5G network in Europe, taking an important step toward commercial 5G use in Europe,” the executive said.
In February 2018, the three companies established a 5G R&D center in L’Aquila, while in October they had completed 5G-based high-resolution drone live broadcasting and 360-degree VR live broadcasting. In addition, the three parties have been advancing 5G commercial use validation, scheduled for the 2018-2020 period , the executive said.
Wind Tre was created from the merger of Italian companies Wind Telecomunicazioni and H3G in 2016. The merger created the largest telecommunications operator in Italy with 27 million users. Before the merger, Wind had 14,000 nodes and H3G had 11,000 nodes. After the merger, Wind Tre integrated the nodes into 21,000 physical nodes and formed a comprehensive 4G network in Italy.
Wind had selected ZTE as its exclusive partner for Radio Network consolidation in late 2016, with the aim of developing a next-generation network, Hanssen added.
“Wind Tre selects its 5G providers taking into account “their technological sophistication and whether they can bring better experience to our users. It’s all business and nothing else,” he said.
“Wind Tre would continue cooperation with ZTE because the network traffic has been steadily increasing and the existing 4G network needs to be expanded as well and there is also the need to explore new business areas such as NB-IoT,” he added. “Wind Tre expects to establish a NB-IoT pilot business unit in collaboration with ZTE before the end of 2019 and put it into use across all its networks.”
Hanssen emphasized that the launch of 5G technologies require core network needs virtualization and network slicing, so that business can be deployed quickly and effectively. “For operators, this is a very important technology to develop new business.”
He also highlighted that Italian operators are facing some challenges for the deployment of 5G infrastructure. “In Italy, the main challenge we face in deploying 5G is physical rather than technical,” he said. “Italy’s radiation requirements are far higher than other countries. We need to place antennas in appropriate places to reduce radiation and meet government requirements,” the executive said.
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