MILAN: San Marino is set to become the first European country to have a super-fast fifth-generation (5G) mobile network under a deal struck by the tiny republic and Telecom Italia.
So-called 5G is expected to provide higher speeds and response times than 4G networks used today and wireless companies see this as a multi-billion dollar opportunity, although international standards for 5G are yet to be finalised.
Telecom Italia and the government of San Marino said on Monday they had signed a memorandum of understanding to switch the existing 4G network and reach a full nation-wide 5G trial system by the end of 2018, increasing speeds by almost 10 times.
The project will start with the upgrade of several websites to 4.5G and the introduction of about 10 so-called "small cell" antennas, connected to optical fibre and required to develop the new technology, they said in a joint statement.
Andrea Zafferani, Industry Secretary of State for San Marino, said the services and the application that will be created from the introduction of 5G would "favour in the immediate future both industry and society in San Marino".
A study by the European Commission estimates that the development of 5G technology will require 56.6 billion euros and create 2.3 million jobs in Europe by 2020, when the high-speed connectivity should be fully deployed across countries.
The benefits of 5G for the automotive, healthcare, transport and utilities sector in Europe are calculated to reach 113 billion per year, according to the study.
(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; editing by Alexander Smith)