5G in Italy: the limits to overcome

The new 5G network in Italy starts with many impediments mainly due to bureaucratic and user safety issues

The superfast 5G data network has also arrived in Italy with the first offers from Tim and Vodafone in Rome, Milan, Turin and other major Italian cities. By 2023, 5G network coverage should be similar to that of the current 4G. But the quality, paradoxically, might not be great.

Due to Italy's current limits on electromagnetic emissions, in fact, operators might be forced to install 5G antennas of too low power to achieve standard 5G performance. Moreover, due to the overcrowding of sites where there are already other antennas, they could be forced to look for new places with really high costs. But not only that: because of the bureaucratic procedures necessary to install a new antenna in a new site, the time to expand the network could be lengthened a lot. 5G, in Italy, is born with a lame leg and everything depends on the limits to emissions.

How the limits to electromagnetic emissions work

The limits to electromagnetic emissions serve to protect citizens who live in the vicinity of the sites that host the antennas. Emissions are measured per site, not per antenna, and for this reason if in a site there are already other antennas, it is possible that by installing a new 5G antenna the legal limits are exceeded.

Italian limits to electromagnetic emissions

Most European countries have simply adapted to international guidelines, imposing the same limits. Greece, Croatia, Lithuania, Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria and Italy have preferred to impose lower limits. The Italian limits are the lowest of all: 100 times less than the guidelines, which are already very restrictive.

How will 5G be in Italy

According to a recent study by Politecnico di Milano and CNR, 62% of sites that already host antennas for telecommunications cannot accommodate other transmitters because otherwise they would immediately exceed the legal limits. Consequently, if other sites for antennas will not be added, the quality of 5G in Italy will be very low and the coverage will be patchy. In the light of all this, there are two solutions: either the emission limits are raised, bringing them to the values of the other European countries, or new sites for 5G antennas are authorized.

The costs of 5G in Italy

All this also has repercussions on the costs that operators must bear and that then, in one way or another, are downloaded on users. If you can't use existing sites, you have to spend a lot of money to analyze the territory and look for new sites. Then you have to go through a long bureaucracy to obtain authorizations to install each new antenna and, finally, you can turn it on. High costs, then, and equally high payback times. Certainly not a good starting point for 5G in Italy.