San Marino is set to become the first European country with a 5G network. The first site equipped with 5G kit has been switched on in the microstate and there are plans to achieve full coverage by the end of the year.
The first site makes use of 3.4GHz spectrum, but operator TIM San Marino will deploy 26GHz millimetre Wave (mmWave) kit manufactured by Nokia at a later date.
This means the country will effectively become an outdoor laboratory used to test the performance of network equipment and applications that use both bands.
San Marino 5G
“The installation of the first 3GPP 5G site is the peak of a virtuous cycle of innovation launched by TIM a few years ago, working with the standardization bodies … on the technical specifications for 3GPP Release 15 and later,” declared Elisabetta Romano, Chief Technology Officer at TIM.
The government of San Marino agreed a deal with TIM last year, allowing the operator to use the country as a testbed to refine its 5G blueprint for Italy. In return, the country will receive early access to services that will boost the local economy.
As part of the deployment, the number of mobile masts will also be doubled to increase network density across the 61 square km microstate, which is completely surrounded by Italy.
The government will work with universities, hospitals, industry and local transport networks on smart city applications and other initiatives such as virtual reality (VR) software to boost tourism. Tourism and banking are the nation’s two major sources of income.
The world’s first 5G network is set to go live in the US later this year, bringing Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband to a number of major cities. It is expected that other countries in Asia and Europe will go live in 2019 and 2020, including the UK.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.