What do I need to know?
- Italy’s youth population is relatively low, but youth unemployment is among the highest in the EU
- Each operator offers plans aimed at young adults (under 30), students (under 25) and teenagers (under 16)
- Under-16 plans are aimed at parents of schoolchildren, and promise safe web-surfing as well as unlimited on-network calls
- TIM and Vodafone include e-learning platforms among their zero-rated apps, while WindTre offered an extra 50GB per month during school hours for learning purposes
- WindTre’s plans are generally the cheapest and have the highest data allowances
Like many European countries, Italy’s population is aging, as a result of falling birth rates and the exodus of graduates to find work abroad. Children under the age of 15 account for 13.1% of the population, and those aged 15 to 29 are a further 14.9%, making for one of the lowest populations of children and teenagers in Europe.
Smartphone penetration, meanwhile, stands at 60.8%, putting Italy eighth worldwide. Predictably, teenagers and young adults (here defined as groups aged between 15 and 24), are extremely active with technology, with over 85% reporting that they use the internet every day, according to ISTAT. Younger kids are also very active online, with 76.9% of respondents aged 11-14 reporting daily internet use, most likely on mobile devices.
Another important point to consider when talking about discounted youth plans is Italy’s high unemployment rate for young adults, which stands at 29.7%. This figure is higher than any country in Western Europe other than Spain and Greece, and for the European Union as a whole, which is 16.9%. This disparity is partly due to structural causes, like the difficulty graduates have in transitioning from education to employment, and partly to acute causes like the 2008 financial crisis, which affected youth employment most strongly. These factors are likely a key reason for operators to tailor mobile plans specifically to students and young graduates.
What are operators offering?
TIM’s range of youth-focused plans is simple, with an option for each age group and lower prices to reflect their buying power. For example, the under-30 plan, Senza Limiti, is cheaper than TIM’s base plan for regular customers, TIM Advance 4.5G, and offers 50% more data.
|Plan||TIM Young Senza Limiti||TIM Young Student Edition||TIM Junior|
Another important feature of TIM’s youth plans is that certain services are zero-rated, meaning their use doesn’t count toward the customer’s data allowance. The Senza Limiti plan offers zero-rated chat, social media and music, while TIM Young Student Edition also includes zero-rated access to e-learning resources, such as Google Suite for Education – effectively focused on services that allow students to attend lectures remotely.
TIM Junior, meanwhile, is aimed more specifically at parents who want their children to be able to surf the web securely. Use of chat apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage don’t count toward the data allowance, and the plan comes with TIM Safe Web Plus enabled. This is meant to protect children from phishing and malware sites, as well as paid sites. As an added peace of mind feature for parents, the voice allowance is limited to 200 minutes across all networks, but calls to two TIM numbers (e.g. those of the parents) are unlimited.
Like TIM, Vodafone offers a plan for each age range, and at similar price points and data allowances. It also offers zero-rated access to chat, social and music apps, with distance-learning (or rather virtual meeting) apps included for the student-focused middle tier. While Vodafone’s under-15 tier also features safe surfing for its users, it’s arguably more fun since it zero-rates the same chat and social apps aimed at the older tier plans. Vodafone also offers 6-month trial periods for music streaming app Tidal and for Amazon Prime.
|Plan||Shake It Easy||Shake It Fun||Shake Remix Unlimited Junior|
Another key difference between TIM and Vodafone’s youth plans is that Vodafone doesn’t charge a one-time activation fee, whereas TIM charges a one-time EUR9 to connect its under-30 and under-25 plans. Given the similarities between the two operators’ plans, and the presumably lower buying power of young people and students, Vodafone is hoping to attract more customers by not charging the fee.
WindTre offers a wider range of youth plans than its competitors, though it doesn’t include an offering specifically for those under 25. As with its senior plans, WindTre’s data allowances are significantly larger than those from TIM and Vodafone, but it doesn’t offer zero-rated access to chat or social media apps. It does charge a one-time connection fee of EUR6.99, which is cheaper than that charged by TIM, though the fee rises to EUR49.99 if the user or their parents cancels the plan earlier than 24 months.
|Plan||Young||Young 5G||Junior Crew||Junior||Junior+|
As an additional feature, reflecting the need for distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, WindTre ran a promotion between November 2020 and March 2021, in which it offered its youth plan customers an additional 50GB of data for one month for educational purposes. The Edu Time promotion came with no additional activation fee, and was activated automatically for customers under the age of 25. The data itself was available Monday through Saturday, between the hours of 8am and 3pm, to coincide with regular school hours.
Comparing the plans aimed at under-30s, TIM and Vodafone are offering extremely similar plans, including the practice of zero-rating apps that would be of interest to their customers. WindTre, on the other hand, doesn’t offer zero-rating (other than its Edu Time promotion), but offers a larger data allowance for a lower monthly price.
WindTre is also the most cost-effective option among plans aimed at children under 16. Its monthly price of EUR9.99 is the same as Vodafone’s, but it offers three times more data, and six times more than TIM. It also offers unlimited voice calling, in contrast to TIM and Vodafone, who offer 200 and 300 minutes, respectively. However, TIM Junior becomes most cost-effective when paired with landlines from TIM, which drops the monthly price to EUR4.99 and gives the user unlimited data.
Price comparison: cost per GB of data
|Under 30 plans||TIM Young Senza Limiti||Vodafone Shake It Easy||WindTre Young|
|Under 16 plans||TIM Junior||Vodafone Shake Remix Unlimited Junior||WindTre Junior Crew|
Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are another cost-effective option for younger consumers, although there aren’t any aimed specifically at younger users. As mentioned in our piece on senior-focused plans, Fastweb and PosteMobile’s data allowances and monthly prices are competitive with those from the main operators. That said, while customers under 30 who pay their own mobile bills will likely find a cheaper MVNO option, parents of schoolchildren will likely prefer to purchase the under-16 plans from the main operators, particularly given their emphasis on safe web-surfing and the unlimited calling to the parents’ numbers.