What Do I Need to Know?
- Italian operators have offered 5G plans since 2019, when the first networks launched in the major cities
- 5G plans are mainly aimed at postpaid consumers, though there are a few plans aimed at the more value-conscious end of that segment
- TIM’s prices are the highest on average, while Iliad’s single plan is the cheapest overall
- Vodafone and WindTre offer true unlimited plans, though Vodafone’s lower-priced plan offers only 10Mbps download speeds
- MVNO Fastweb bought 5G spectrum and offers plans on its own network
Italian operators purchased wireless spectrum for 5G in the 2018 auction, primarily in the 3.6 and 3.8GHz bands, although TIM, Vodafone and Iliad also purchased blocks in the 700 MHz band. TIM was the first to launch, opening its network in parts of Rome and Turin in June 2019, though it has since expanded to more cities and achieved some of the highest download speeds. Iliad was the last to launch its 5G network, in December 2020, but it did so in a greater number of starting markets, launching in 27 of Italy’s largest cities.
What Are Operators Offering?
Like almost all the rest of the operators in Italy, TIM’s range of standard mobile plans is entirely composed of 5G-ready plans (this report does not include age-focused plans, like those aimed at seniors or users under the age of 25). Its plans range from the lowest-tier Premium Famiglia plan, which offers just 5GB of data, to its 5G Power Unlimited, which despite the name is actually capped at 600GB (though it’s fair to say that this amount makes it effectively unlimited). TIM’s plans are, on average, the most expensive in Italy per GB of data with the smallest data allowances.
|Plan||Premium Famiglia||5G Power Smart||5G Power Top||5G Power Unlimited|
Vodafone’s plans are divided into those with fixed data allowances and those offering unlimited data. The former, sold as Red Pro and Red Max, offer the same allowances and prices as TIM’s mid-tier plans. The unlimited plans, sold as Infinito, are differentiated by their download speeds: 10Mbps for the basic Infinito plan, compared with the maximum available speed for the Max Edition. The latter plan also offers more roaming data (5GB vs 1GB for the base plan) and more roaming minutes (500 vs 200).
|Plan||Red Pro||Red Max||Infinito||Infinito Black Edition|
Similar to its sister-company’s position in France, Iliad Italy has a streamlined product offering in the form of a single 5G plan, with the joint-lowest monthly price overall and the joint-lowest price per GB of any operator. However, Iliad is also the only operator to offer a non-5G postpaid plan: Giga 80 costs EUR7.99 per month for 80GB of LTE data, or EUR0.11 per GB.
WindTre’s plans are among the cheapest overall, its mid-tier Di Più Full plan bested only by Iliad’s single offering. However, its unlimited plan is firmly in the middle of the range of true unlimited offerings, as it costs less than Vodafone’s Infinito Max Edition but more than the base Infinito plan. Its other drawback is that it doesn’t offer unlimited text messaging: like the other WindTre plans, it only offers 200 SMS per month. Another aspect that makes WindTre somewhat less cost-effective is its connection fee, which at EUR49.99 is much higher than those from any of its rivals.
|Plan||Di Più Lite 5G||Di Più Full 5G||Di Più Unlimited 5G|
Like other European markets, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in Italy tend to be aimed at value-conscious consumers, so typically don’t have the fastest networks (which the mobile network operators want to keep for themselves). The exception is Fastweb, which has long operated as an MVNO using TIM’s network, but which has acquired its own 5G spectrum, meaning that it can offer 5G as a full network operator itself.
|Plan||Mobile Light||Mobile||Mobile Maxi|
With its positioning as an alternative to the more expensive incumbent mobile networks, Fastweb offers lower monthly prices than its rivals, and as a result the price per GB of data for each of its plans is highly competitive. Fastweb is also the only operator that doesn’t charge an activation fee for new customers, which gives it an additional edge.
Like other European markets, 5G plans in Italy are primarily aimed at postpaid consumers, though most operators offer a range of plans to capture more value-conscious users as well as those willing to spend more for unlimited plans. Also like in other markets, the incumbent – TIM in this case – tends to have the highest average prices, even if its highest-priced plan offers a comparable value per GB as the insurgent challenger Iliad’s only plan.
|Plan||5G Power Unlimited||Red Max||Flash 150||Di Più Full 5G||Mobile Maxi|
With regard to unlimited plans, it’s notable that Vodafone offers two plans differentiated by download speeds. However, with the lower-priced plan’s maximum speed set at 10Mbps, it’s worth asking if this effort to offer an “introductory unlimited 5G” plan and eventually upsell consumers to the more expensive tier will work. The danger is that consumers who take the cheaper plan move to WindTre’s, which is only EUR5 per month more expensive but presumably offers the full speed benefits of a 5G network.
|Plan||Infinito||Infinito Black Edition||Di Più Unlimited 5G|