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The companies have extended their partnership to deploy the technology, now targeting four million additional homes in digital divide areas

Fixed wireless access (FWA) is increasingly becoming a useful weapon in an operator’s arsenal when it comes to bridging the digital divide. Cheap and easy to deploy by the customer themselves, with no need for disruptive fibre to the property itself, FWA is an attractive option for some of the harder to reach areas in any country, particularly now that the technology has advanced to be able to provide a service comparable to fibre.
 
In Italy, Fastweb and Linkem first signed an agreement back in December 2019 to increase the rollout of their respective 5G FWA networks, aiming to reach eight million households. Now, the two operators have announced that they are extending their partnership, focussing on an additional four million households in the so-called “white areas”, where no infrastructure currently exists. This additional deployment should bring connectivity to an additional 15% of the population who previously had no access to ultra-broadband services. Altogether, the two operators’ 5G FWA networks will cover just under half of the Italian population upon completion.
 
"5G FWA networks are the most efficient solution to guarantee ultra-broadband services up to 1 Gigabit in areas of the country that are currently in a serious digital divide,” said Alberto Calcagno, Fastweb CEO. “The COVID emergency has clearly shown us how important it is to have stable and powerful connections everywhere. With this agreement we give our contribution to timely eliminate the digital divide in Italy."
 
As part of the agreement, the two operators will grant each other wholesale access to their respective 5G networks.
 
Deployment is expected to begin in 2021, with completion targetted for 2023.
 
Both Fastweb and Linkem were keep to tie this development to the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting that the ability to rapidly deploy FWA compared to slow, expensive fibre.

"The FWA model has demonstrated all its effectiveness in the perspective of the digital divide, especially in the area of ??Covid-19 emergency management, thanks to the typical characteristics of flexibility, resilience and rapid activation of the service. The low costs and the enabling of the 5G ecosystems make the FWA the infrastructural answer of our country’s undeniable need for digital transformation," said Linkem CEO Davide Rota.

 
 
What role will 5G FWA play in Italy’s wider connectivity landscape? Find out from the experts at this year’s inaugural Connected Italy
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