Towards the Gigabit Society

Business Development Manager

The ultra-broadband development plan is progressing at such a good pace that it produced a new social characterization under the name of Gigabit Society.

Data from the European Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), available on the website of the European Commission’s Digital Economy & Society Index, reveal that the gap between Italy and other European countries (mean value from 28 countries) is shrinking, mainly thanks to interventions over the last two years. We have now reached 70% coverage, against a European mean value of 75%, and thanks to the initiatives planned by the Government, Italy is now the European country with the highest growth trend, despite its initial lag.

Overall, Italy’s ultra-broadband network development plan – which is being implemented thanks to OpenFiber’s work, Infratel’s funding, and Fastweb-TIM’s Flash Fiber (the TIM-Fastweb joint venture that brings optical fiber to 29 cities across Italy), as well as private investments from different Service Providers – will lead to the creation of 30 million HU (Household Units) with FTTH architecture.

Italtel has contributed to this massive project from the beginning, as Project Designer, using its professional services (BUL Competence Center) to design an ultra-broadband network – both optical (GPON technology) and wireless – across the country (FWA – Fixed Wireless Access technology).

Both the ultra-broadband and the services provided by Gigabit Society are creating high expectations. According to Cisco’s forecast study [1], IP traffic demand in Europe (for consumer and business segments) is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22% until 2021.

The European Commission itself funded a public consultation on Internet speed and quality requirements beyond 2020 [2], the results of which are very interesting: the demand for high-speed services will grow significantly in both the consumer and business segments, which will require even more bandwidth. The services of the new Gigabit Society are basically associated with new entertainment models based on HD video streaming and online gaming; new e-commerce solutions based on growing customer engagement; new education programs based on digital schooling and permanent online training; new labor paradigms based on smart working strategies; and new banking and insurance solutions based on connected objects and people. The implementation of state-of-the-art networks will represent a revolution not only in terms of personal internet usage but also in regard to the evolution of the IoT, which will make cities increasingly smarter. Think of smart traffic lights to manage traffic in real time and reduce traffic jams or the emergence of self-driving cars, which are being tested since 2015. Cisco itself is going to invest $1 million in a partnership with the South Australian government and the Adelaide administration. The funding will initially be used to measure vehicle stop time at traffic signals and the length of queues at intersections. Furthermore, the effectiveness of smart traffic signals in preventing queues will be tested.

From a financial point of view, and according to the World Bank, a 10% increase in broadband connectivity could increase annual GDP growth by 1.5% [3].

In view of the above, the European Commission Staff Working document on “Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market – Towards a European Gigabit Society” [4],  recommended that by 2025 all schools, transport companies, major public service providers and highly digitized companies within the EU should have access to internet connectivity of at least 1 Gbps.

Furthermore, all European households, both rural and urban, should have access to networks that offer a download speed of at least 100 Mbps, which can be upgraded to 1 Gbps. All urban areas as well as major roads and railways should have uninterrupted 5G wireless broadband coverage.

All this is defined in the document as the Gigabit Society.

The preferred connectivity solutions are based on optical fiber, but should that not be feasible, copper will be used at least in the last mile as a substitute. In the same Staff Working document, the European Commission suggests the following technical specifications to achieve this goal:

  • the use of G.Fast-based xDSL modulation techniques, already standardized at the end of 2014 by ITU-T, which makes it possible to provide high data rates with smaller investments and shorter timeframes, as it allows the existing twisted pair cabling to reach connection speeds up to 1 Gbps (upstream+downstream);
  • or XG-FAST (still in its early development stages) which is the 5th generation broadband technology (5GBB) capable of delivering a 10 Gbps data rate over copper pairs.

With a proof-of-concept at the end of 2015, the IEEE has shown that multi-gigabit speeds are achievable over typical drop lengths of up to 130 m, with data rates exceeding 10 Gbps on shorter loops.

Below is a schematic description of connectivity alternatives to direct fiber. The bitrate increases as the length of the twisted pair decreases.

More than with other xDSL technologies, the bitrate of G.Fast technology drastically decreases (note the steeper trend) as the distance between router and DSLAM increases.

To find out more about Italtel services and products for the Gigabit Society, here are some links:



[1] Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021”- June 6, 2017.

[2] ITSynopsis report of the internet speed quality consultation –  SUMMARY REPORT of the public consultation on the needs in terms of speed and quality of the Internet beyond 2020 and on the interventions needed to meet these needs by 2025

[3] “L’orizzonte dell’Italia deve essere la Gigabit Society – Intervista a Ripa (Open Fiber)”- Corriere delle Comunicazioni, 28/02/2018


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