3G Mobile Network Woes in Italy

Recently, my already intermittent 3G mobile web service here in Milan, Italy has become increasingly unstable.  Perhaps this is because 4G has just landed?

I often surf the world wide web from my Blackberry smart phone here in Milan.  Mobile web is convenient and I can access it from more or less wherever I am.  Or at least I could.   Now the 3G service has become very hit and miss.

Now, if I lived in the middle of nowhere, I could perhaps understand why mobile 3G services are a little wobbly at times, but I live slap bang in the middle of Milan, one of Italy’s biggest, and, so its administrators would have us all believe, most advanced cities in Italy.  Except this ‘advanced’ city has a 3G mobile web network which is stuttering.  I thought I was the only one experiencing a wobbly 3G connection, so via Twitter I asked if others in Italy had been having problems.

Well, it turns out I am not alone.  Firstly, others have been having problems with intermittent 3G outages, and secondly, the problem has been getting worse recently.

What’s wrong?  That’s a very good question and I’d love to know the answer.  What I suspect is that Italy’s flakey mobile network is feeling the strain of the ever increasing number of smart phones being used by Italians.  Not only that, but we are now in tablet times and many of Italy’s tablets are connected to Italy’s mobile web.  WiFi versions of most tablets would be a waste of time in Italy because Italy does not have easily accessible WiFi services.

Now though, we have big adverts announcing the arrival of 4G. Great.  However if 4G services are as flakey as 3G services signing up for them will be a waste of time.  Maybe 3G is being quietly abandoned in favor of more lucrative 4G services?  Perhaps some of the bandwidth dedicated to 3G has been handed over to the new whizzy 4G network, thus making the old 3G network much less usable?  Who knows?

Vodafone Italy, via Twitter, advised me that 4G is only for internet keys and tablets for the moment.  Just when mobile phones will get 4G in Italy does not seem to be known.

Before Italy gets on the 4G track, it should get 3G sorted out.

But this is Italy – the weather is nice, the food is great, and the wine is wonderful, so who cares that everything works as intermittently as the nations 3G mobile network?

Grumble over – until the next time I try to connect to mobile web in Italy.

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  1. Julian says

    “Before Italy gets on the 4G track, it should get 3G sorted out.”
    And before that it should get broadband sorted out. ADSL is rubbish, and fiber optics are only available in a handful of places.

    When testing my connection speed at speedtest.net, I can see my connection is “faster than 65% of Italy”. But then compare it to the rest of the workd: I get 5mbps, while the global average is 12.5Mbps.

    Upload speed is even worse: I get 0.7Mbps, while the global average is 4.7Mbps. Six times faster.

    (to see these comparisons for your own connection test the speed a few times and then go to http://speedtest.net/results.php)


    • says

      Basically, Julian, you are right!

      Internet connectivity in Italy is only really any good if you live in one of Italy’s bigger cities, and as you say connection speeds are often slow.

      The answer is either reasonably priced mobile connections – which work – of some investment in internet structure. This is being talked about, but talking takes a long, long time in Italy and even after the talks have eventually ended, there’s no guarantee that anything will happen.

      Italy continually shoots itself in the foot on the internet front. This is nuts because decent internet would allow Italians to work from home without moving to another area of Italy. Italians, though not all, tend to detest leaving their beloved places of birth, and if they had good internet, they would not have to.

      Let’s hope things do get sorted out – but don’t go holding your breath!



      • Julian says

        Hehe. I won’t be holding my breath. I lost all faith when I saw the road works they did in Bergamo for the “Teleriscaldamento” (District heating).
        I could see the roads cut open and huge pipes were placed along them to transport hot water. That would have been a great oportunity to install fiber optics at a very low cost. Yet, no mention of any fiber optics anywhere. So I assume they didn’t even think about it.
        So sad.

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