Vodafone Italy claims 5G first as trials hot up

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Vodafone is claiming the first 5G data connection in Italy, as the country looks set to become a battlefield for the next generation technology in the years ahead.

The operator worked with Huawei on the demonstration, which involved Massive MIMO technology and took place in Milan.

They used frequencies in the 3.7-3.8GHz band, which was made available by Italy's Ministry for Economic Development, andhit speeds of more than 2.7GBps with latencies of just over one millisecond.

In a statement, Huawei said: "The success of the 5G trial represents a major step forward. This was a real live test demonstrating use of 5G Prototype equipment that already meets the current 3GPP standard, including Massive MIMO technology, which increases both capacity and coverage." 

Italy has established itself as one of the busiest markets in Europe for 5G research.

In September, TIM announced it would hold trials of pre-standard 5G from June next year in the cities of Bari and Matera in southern Italy.

Bari will explore how the connectivity can be used to improve security and logistics as its shipping port, while Matera will test tourist use cases ahead of the city's 2019 role as European capital of culture.

It held a press conference this morning with partners Huawei and Fastweb to discuss the projects but did not reveal further details beyond what was originally announced two months ago.

In a separate project, Swisscom-owned Fastweb is also planning to trial intelligent mobility, sensors, tourism, video surveillance and industrial use cases from next year.

Last month, Wind Tre also leapt into the 5G fray with plans to build a pre-commercial 5G network using the 3.6-3.8GHz bands in Prato and L'Aquila. The operator will demonstrate how the technology can improve healthcare, energy and security.