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Why San Marino will be the first country to get 5G coverage

San Marino’s business-friendly government moved Telecom Italia to choose the tiny sovereign republic as a pilot case for nationwide coverage, a San Marino official said. It will be the first country in Europe and possibly the world to get the fastest available network for mobile communications by late 2018.

The government of San Marino and TIM —as the Italian telecommunications company is known— signed a memorandum of agreement on Monday. Starting this year, TIM will start updating the microstate’s mobile network, introducing some features of 5G, including cloud architecture and “small cells,”, little, low power masts with low environmental impact in the main streets and squares of San Marino, a Unesco world heritage site.

“San Marino is a small nation, where the bureaucracy works faster and processes move rapidly to manage technology,” said Fabio Verbena, assistant secretary of Industry of the local government. “All permits for setting up the antennae and carry out the work are processed quicker than elsewhere. This is a race against time.”

Verbena said eventually the country will get “capillary coverage” with the 5G network.

This new wireless system enables faster speeds, a higher density of broad band users as well as extremely reliable device-to-device and machine communications. In other words, it will boost the Internet of Things and hence the technological architecture of smart cities.

“The signing of this agreement demonstrates TIM’s capacity to be a leader in innovation processes,” said Giovanni Ferigo, head of technology at TIM, in a statement. “We are among the first in the world to invest in the development of new ultra-broadband networks: they are the key to the future, fast connections and the development of cities.”

TIM also aims to beat rivals to become a European and global leader in 5G, empowering Italian companies to take full advantage of the possibilities offered by the hyper-connectivity. Everything from small Italian arts and crafts businesses that deliver hand-made, exquisite products following ancient processes, to big industrial corporations —Fiat, Pirelli, Ducati, Maserati, to just mention a few— will have a distinct advantage over competitors elsewhere. Indeed, the Financial Times reports that Ducati and Maserati are working with TIM towards better wireless technology.

Verbena, San Marino’s assistant secretary of Industry, denied press reports that rules are laxer in San Marino as far as the setup of the technological network is concerned. “That is simply not true,” he said. “San Marino has some of the toughest regulation in the world on cellphone towers and their impact on the environment.”

So much so, he said, that the enclave only got 4G coverage a few months ago, upgraded from 2G. Separately, he added, the republic is now considering plans to develop a data center industry.