ROME (WiMAX Day). The city of Bari will be the first city in Italy to have a WiMAX network. AFT-Linkem, which acquired licenses for 3.5 GHz spectrum at auction in February this year for € 34 million EUR, announced that it plans to launch its first network there in June. Thereafter, the Bari network will be expanded throughout the city during the summer.
The network will be launched in partnership with Telebari, a local cable TV operator. According to Davide Rota, CEO of AFT-Linkem, Bari “is the perfect city, because while it does not have a huge metropolitan area, there are many companies and universities.”
The investment required for launching WiMAX in the Bari region will cost an estimated € 50 million EUR.
AFT-Linkem intends to activate WiMAX networks in all thirteen regions where it was awarded frequencies, including Lazio, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Sicily, Sardinia, Umbria, Molise, Abruzzo, Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Basilicata. The company has given no further indication of investments required to launch networks in these regions.
AFT-Linkem is a subsidiary of S.p.A AFT, and includes Group Sopaf and US-based Ramius Capital Group LLC, amongst its shareholders. AFT Linkem has been building wireless networks in Italy since 2001. Primarily the company boasts a network WiFi hotspots throughout Italy, including airports and major hotel chains. In addition, AFT-Linkem provide wireless broadband services to in more than 350 Italian municipalities.
Given its expertise in deploying WiFi networks, AFT-Linkem expects it will be one of the leading WiMAX operators in Italy. The company already has done extensive testing of WiMAX, including an experiment sponsored by the Ministry of Communications, that tested WiMAX along the major highways in the Arezzo and Abruzzo regions.