ZTE and the Rome City Council signed a memorandum of understanding that will see them jointly pursue 5G research and development going forward. The move is part of the Chinese company‘s recent push in Italy that saw it commit to investing €500 million ($611 million) in the country over the next half a decade and led to the recent establishment of its 5G lab in L’Aquila. The new agreement with Rome encompasses 5G and Wi-Fi solutions, with the latter being a strong hint that the capital of Italy is interested in exploring fixed wireless access technologies. 5G FWA has been touted by some telecom companies as the first step toward the next generation of truly mobile networks, being meant to serve as a broadband alternative capable of generating some early 5G revenue, with its only requirement being that wireless carriers densify their networks, which is something they’re already pursuing as part of their 5G ambitions.
The new partnership should see ZTE provide Rome with 5G-ready network infrastructure and explore opportunities in transportation, video surveillance, and tourism, all of which have the potential to be ennobled with new wireless technologies. No specific roadmap has yet been attached to the project, though one should be disclosed in the coming months as ZTE and Rome’s government signaled they’re looking to start actively collaborating on the matter in the first half of the year, presumably after turning their memorandum into an official contract.
The fifth generation of mobile networks represents a cornerstone of ZTE’s current business strategy spanning all terms, with the company presently being in the process of raising billions of dollars to fund its 5G projects that it believes have the potential to generate unprecedented growth. The Shenzhen-based firm is now primarily looking to pursue international growth in the networking segment which makes Europe one of its several focus points, especially after Washington made it clear it won’t be doing any infrastructural deals in the United States for the foreseeable future. Wireless technologies based on the first implementable 5G standard completed in December are expected to start being deployed at a large scale in early 2019, following extensive trials set to take place throughout the world over the course of this year.