Thursday 12 November 2020

TIM and INWIT to deploy small cells in Italy

INWIT (Italian Wireless Infrastructures) is currently Italy’s major Tower Operator providing widespread coverage throughout the country, hosting the transmission equipment for all main national operators. Back in March, INWIT became the largest tower company in Italy after purchase, by INWIT, of a minority stake of 43.4% of the share capital of Vodafone Towers and for the subsequent merger of the latter into INWIT. 

In a press release last week, TIM and INWIT announced:

TIM and INWIT started a collaboration to deploy small cells in Italy’s major cities in order to make the mobile phone signal more performing and support the development of 5G.

The collaboration will begin in Milan and Genoa where it is expected to install about 100 small cells and will continue in other cities and places with high traffic density, as the support of micro-antennas will be needed to achieve an optimal 5G network.

Small cells are small antennas built and used to integrate the signal that is guaranteed by the systems placed on traditional towers. Despite the spread throughout the territory of traditional macro towers (INWIT has over 22,000 sites) and despite the fact that their number is growing to meet the ever-increasing demand for mobile connections by customers, more and more small cells systems capable of increasing the quality of the signal will be developed in large urban centers.

Small cells play a fundamental role, especially for the development and perfect functioning of 5G and its services. Indeed, this new technology features low latency (a minimum delay between the request and the reception of information) and a data transmission speed ten times faster than previous systems. In order to maintain these characteristics and to allow all connected devices to operate at their best, the quality of the 5G radio signal must always be optimal.

TIM and INWIT have already experimented underground solutions in several municipalities, such as small cells that are inserted in manholes under the road surface that, especially in venues with a remarkable artistic value or in ancient towns, by no means alter the artistic integrity.

It is interesting to see that there there has already been some experimentation with small cells in manhole covers. We have written extensively about it and you can find some of the posts in the references below.

It is also important to point out that in the announcement above, it says: "Small cells are small antennas built and used to integrate the signal that is guaranteed by the systems placed on traditional towers. "

Small Cells definition can be quite loose, so not sure what they mean by this. In the USA, outdoor Small cells is generally used to refer to Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) rather than an all in one unit. It can mean that.

Small cell forum also clarified the definition of 5G small cell that is available here.

TelecomTV in their newsletter on Monday said: "The team at TIM (Telecom Italia) tells us that the small 5G RAN nodes being deployed in partnership with towers firm INWIT will be for TIM’s use only, and that technology from multiple vendors will be used, though the initial rollouts in Milan and Genoa will use small cells supplied by Ericsson. "

Hopefully we will find out more details in the near future.

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