Exclusive: TIM launches Europe’s fastest consumer network with 500MBps service

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TIM is boasting the fastest consumer network for smartphone users in Europe after launching a tri-band carrier aggregation network in Italy with speeds of 500MBps.

The service launched today in the town centres of Rome, Palermo and Sanremo and aggregates spectrum from the 800MHz, 1500MHz and 1800MHz bands. Consumers can access the high speed network for free, so long as they have compatible handsets.

While other operators have been trialling 1GBps networks, with Denmark's TDC launching it commercially last week, these networks so far have no compatible smartphones to take advantage of the speeds.

TIM has partnered with Sony to launch its Xperia XZ smartphone to consumers, the first Category 11 LTE device to take advantage of the speeds. The handset has Qualcomm's Snapdragon X12 LTE modem, which allows it to tap into 256QAM.

Giovanni Ferigo, Head of Technology at TIM, told Mobile Europe: "During this year we had a close relationship with Qualcomm and in the live network in October we reached 500 MBps in downlink using a prototype [device].

"In the meantime we pushed the main smartphone vendors to follow us in this development path. Sony has been the first commercial model with the new XZ. Many smartphone vendors and models will appear in Q1 2017."

He added: "We have been launching a range of video streaming services so this gives us the opportunity to improve the capacity of our network."

The new networks sit alongside 300MBps services that are now available in 11 Italian cities.

By February, Ferigo said he wants to launch the 500MBps network in Milan, Naples and Turin, as well as continue to grow the coverage of the network within its debut cities. 

He added: "As Ericsson and Huawei increase the availability of this equipment we will be able to rollout the network further."

Looking further ahead, Ferigo said he expects the operator to be in a position to launch a 1GBps network commercially by the end of next year.

He said: "Tests are underway with the major vendors...we are studying the various algorithms and testing prototype handsets."