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Turin promises to be shrouded in 5G by 2018

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TIM – the artist formerly known as Telecom Italia – has signed an agreement with the city of Turin to install a bunch of small cells and call them 5G.

Even by the impatient standards of today’s telecoms industry this seems to be jumping the gun somewhat, with even the accelerated NSA 5G NR not set to be standardized until early 2018. 100 ‘smart cells’ will be installed in some hey locations in the centre of town but no details have been offered regarding spectrum, devices, etc, or indeed any qualification of what makes them so smart.

Instead this announcement, in common with so much other 5G spam, seems to be a way of TIM, Turin and Italy to associated themselves with the buzzword of the decade. This will, in effect, be a field trial and has value in that capacity, but let’s not kid ourselves that it will turn Turin into a 5G city as the announcement would have us believe. It’s also an opportunity for TIM to big-up its Turin fibre network, which will provide the backhaul.

The TIM canned-quote reaffirms the primarily self-publicising nature of the announcement. “The signing of this agreement demonstrates TIM’s capacity to be a leader in the company’s innovation process,” said Giuseppe Recchi, Executive Chairman of TIM. “We are the first private investor in the country with a business plan that includes 11 billion euros of investments in 3 years, 5 billion of which will be dedicated to developing the new ultrabroadband networks: the plan concerns the future, fast connections and the development of cities.

“When we talk about big data, digital identity and the Internet of Things, we are aware that underlying all this there is always quality and the speed of the networks. TIM has the privilege of being a leading company in the development of the digital culture of the country and today this agreement adds another important element to our strategy.”

While we’re happy to call out self-serving press releases, there is some substance buried under the mounds of hyperbole. Fully-fledged field trials in real-world environments are an important part of the process and it’s good to see evidence of this happening. But to call Turin a 5G city just because it’s got a few new small cells seems an overstatement, even from a city that is no stranger to shrouding the facts.

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