TIM topples another 5G speed record, reaching 4 Gbps

Italian incumbent TIM is evidently still keen to prove mmWave spectrum is worth all that money.

Nick Wood

September 7, 2020

3 Min Read
5G speedometer

Italian incumbent TIM is evidently still keen to prove mmWave spectrum is worth all that money.

Its live 5G network in Rome, running on 26-GHz spectrum, just topped 4 Gbps on the downlink, which TIM claims is a new European speed record. TIM trousered 400 MHz of 26-GHz spectrum in 2018’s 5G auction for the princely sum of €33 million.

It has been justifying the price tag since then with a series of record-breaking throughput tests. Its previous attempt – which took place in January – saw its 5G network speed exceed 2 Gbps, which was also apparently a European record at the time.

TIM is being ably assisted in its pursuit of mmWave 5G supremacy by Qualcomm and Ericsson. For its latest record attempt, the telco used Ericsson network infrastructure and devices powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G modem-RF system and its QTM525 mmWave antenna module.

TIM said in a statement that demonstrations like this show the potential that mmWave has to support services like ultrafast fixed-wireless access (FWA), and dedicated indoor 5G coverage for various vertical applications.

“This significant achievement confirms TIM’s ability for innovation thanks to its cutting-edge network infrastructure capable of enabling the country’s digital transformation. In addition to reaching very high speeds, millimetre-wave frequencies provide high network capacity thanks to the wide bandwidth available,” TIM said. “This represents another success in the millimetre-wave milestones achieved in Turin in 2017 with the first 5G connection in Italy and in Rome in 2018 with the first 5G videocall in Europe.”

It is always worth taking a look at how – if at all – these kind of achievements translate into marketing capital.

In TIM’s case, a quick scan of the 5G section on its consumer Website shows that it does attempt to woo potential customers by touting its 2-Gbps-capable 5G network, which is currently available in 10 major cities. It’ll be interesting to see if and when this is updated to include the new milestone.

It is also further proof that, despite being told ad infinitum that differentiation takes place primarily at the service level, there is still plenty of network differentiation going on.

Meanwhile, due to its propagation characteristics, mmWave is less useful than lower-band spectrum when it comes to providing coverage over distances longer than a kilometre. However, Qualcomm and Ericsson appear to be on a mission to change all that.

The two vendors last week revealed they successfully carried out a data call between a device and an mmWave 5G NR network at a distance of 3.8 km, which they claim is a new world record. The trial itself took place in Australia in June.

It has interesting implications for mmWave networks, because it suggests that they could have their uses for providing ultrafast FWA in more sparsely-populated areas. It also suggests that operators might not have to spend eye-watering sums of money to deploy a cell site on every street corner and bus stop in order to deliver high-capacity, low-latency coverage in dense urban environments.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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