Swisscom’s Italian subsidiary Fastweb is to buy Tiscali’s fixed wireless business and its 3.5GHz spectrum, in a boost to the operator’s 5G plans.
The €150 million deal will see Fastweb own Tiscali’s fixed wireless infrastructure, comprising 835 towers and equipment, as well as 34 staff, who are mostly engineers. Once the deal completes in November, pending approval by competition authorities, Tiscali will become a wholesale customer of Fastweb.
Since December 2016, Fastweb had been leasing 3.5GHz of spectrum from Tiscali subsidiary Aria to provide coverage to around 20 percent of the Italian population in major cities.
Fastweb said that by acquiring 40MHz of spectrum through today’s deal, it would reinforce its ambitions to be an alternative operator within the Italian market.
The Swisscom subsidiary had been providing mobile services via an MVNO with TIM since last year. That current agreement will last until 2020.
Alberto Calcagno, CEO of Fastweb, said: “We are particularly proud of the agreement reached with Tiscali because it allows Fastweb to take advantage of the strategic advantage gained with the 5G trials launched in several Italian cities in 2017 and the investments made over the years for…FTTx
“The long-term ownership of such a high-quality part of the spectrum allows us to accelerate the implementation of a 5G infrastructure in the main Italian cities, thus strengthening our leadership in the converging fixed-mobile market.”
Earlier this year, Fastweb worked with TIM and Huawei in activating Italy’s first 5G antenna in Matera. The telcos are aiming to establish 75 percent pre-commercial 5G coverage in the cities of Bari and Matera by the end of this year.
In May, the three telcos used the networks in the two cities to showcase virtual and augmented reality services. One demonstration focused on how VR could be used for tourism, while the second showed augmented reality in a work context, giving additional detail to engineers working on a ship.
Last month Fastweb completed construction of a 200GBps transport network stretching from Milan to the south of Sicily. The telco had been working with Huawei on the project, which launched in September 2017.