San Marino will be the first European country with a 5G network. The first site with 5G kit is enabled in the micro-state and there are plans to achieve full coverage by the end of the year.
The first site uses the 3.4 GHz spectrum, but the TIM San Marino operator will use the 26 GHz Millimeter Wave (mmWave) kit manufactured by Nokia at a later date.
This means that the country will effectively become an outdoor laboratory used to test the performance of network equipment and applications using both bands.
San Marino 5G
"The installation of the first 3GPP 5G site is the top of a virtuous cycle of innovation that TIM launched a few years ago, in collaboration with the standardization institutions … on the technical specifications for 3GPP Release 15 and later," stated Elisabetta Romano, Chief Technology Officer at TIM.
The San Marino government agreed last year with TIM, allowing the operator to use the country as a testbed for refining its 5G blueprint for Italy. In return, the country will have early access to services that will stimulate the local economy.
As part of the deployment, the number of mobile masts will also be doubled in order to increase the network density over the 61 square km long microstate, which is completely surrounded by Italy.
The government will collaborate with universities, hospitals, industry and local transport networks on smart city applications and other initiatives such as virtual reality (VR) software to stimulate tourism. Tourism and banking are the two main sources of income of the country.
The world's first 5G network will go live in the US later this year, providing 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.