Broadband and ultrabroadband networks, fixed and mobile, are the main assets in our infrastructure. They reflect the evolution of telecommunications technology at this point in history and in the socio-economic context in which it unfurls.
Designing and creating infrastructure takes years, and longer or shorter depending on the part of Italy. Some geographical areas, and the people and businesses in them, take to new services more enthusiastically and quickly than others.
What unites all the different parts of the country is a constant growth in internet traffic, due to an increase in the number of users but above all in the intensity of use on each line.
You can see statistics on the progress of our infrastructure on the Netbook, the TIM publication with updated information and infographics for Italy, both as a whole and by province.
TIM is the only European operator that, through its Netbook, provides clear, instant information of such detail on the functioning of its equipment, the number of lines it has and how its ultrabroadband networks are used. Of this information, one of the most important pieces explains that, every year since 2011, we have provided every single user with an extra "aisle" of a similar size to those available in 2011, and this trend is still growing. We run, maintain and improve Italy's most widespread broadband and ultrabroadband network every year.
With a resource that's crucial to a country's growth, you can't afford to make it up as you go along
Telecommunications networks are a dynamic infrastructure that are always changing their spots. That's why the company that runs most of them in Italy must have specific skills and deep roots. But that's not all. It must also ensure it can constantly and very quickly update itself, to keep up with technologies along the entire ICT supply chain as they evolve. This is also key if the company wants to meet not only its commitment to people and business as customers, but also its moral duty to Italy. It must help the country grow economically and allow its citizens to play a role in their society.
Comparison with the rest of Europe
In terms of coverage and performance, our broadband and ultrabroadband networks are on a par with, if not better than, the best in Europe. In 2018, 90% of Italian households were reached by ultrabroadband networks: among big European markets, only the UK provided a better coverage.
Broadband coverage compared with the major 5 EU markets over the last 10 years
This result was possible mostly thank to the extension of both broadband and ultrabroadband networks by TIM, reaching in December 2019 respectively 99% and 81% of italian households.
Over the last few years, our company has pooled its efforts with those of the Italian State, in particular in areas not covered by ultrabroadband networks. By means of special tenders, significant public resources are put into these areas to create a network that is open to all operators. We are on track to reaching our infrastructural targets of the 2020 Digital Agenda: a speed of 30 Mb/s to 100% of Italian households and 100 Mb/sec active subscriptions for 50% of them. Private companies will go on working with government bodies to provide satisfactory network infrastructure in the country, which is after all the world's seventh biggest economic power.
The problem of demand
The enormous effort Italy has made has seen it close the infrastructure gap. A big obstacle to further digital development has been low demand (the percentage of families that really use broadband and ultrabroadband services). Although the number of lines on TIM's network keeps on growing (it increased by about 800,000 lines in 2019), when it comes to the use of digital instruments, there is still a lot of ground to gain. According to data from ISTAT and the European Commission, in 2019:
- Almost one in five Italians has never used the internet (compared to fewer than 5% of people in Britain and Germany).
- Less than half of Italians shop online (compared to more than four in five people in Britain and Germany).
Partly because of this, in November 2019, TIM embarked on a huge digital education programme called “Operation Digital Renaissance”.
Operation Digital Renaissance: a big digital education project for Italy
Teaching hundreds of thousands of Italians to use digital tools is not a marketing operation or a contest of who can make the boldest adverts. We need to go out to places and sit down next to people, especially those who struggle to use the internet, be it for social or geographical reasons. Because unless they experience the revolution first hand, they'll never seize the personal and social opportunities it provides, the chance to simplify their everyday life.
That's why we have created the world's biggest mobile internet school and called it "Operation Digital Renaissance", to actively help digitalise Italy by giving people the chance to take advantage of this process. The initiative will involve over 20,000 hours of teaching, employing 400 teachers in 107 Italian provinces, in order to involve up to a million people.