Telecom Italia chief Amos Genish argued 5G will be the most important catalyst the industry has seen in the last 20 years and the opportunities it will open up for operators justify the high prices the operator paid in a recent 5G spectrum auction.

Speaking at the FT-ETNO summit in Brussels, Genish (pictured) admitted the auction may have been “unfairly designed” and companies had to pay a high premium.

However, he claimed the cost was worth it when considering the newly acquired spectrum “will enable us to be one of the two most competitive telcos in Italy and two of the winners in a very crowded market”.

Telecom Italia is the number one operator in the country, and spent more than €2.4 billion in the recent auction. Genish was likely referring to competitor Vodafone Italy, which spent around the same.

He explained the spectrum Telecom Italia purchased will help reduce the cost per gigabyte “by 50 to 70 per cent compared to what it is today”, adding the drop is a big deal because the operator expects consumers’ current average monthly data use of 5GB will increase to 80GB in coming years.

Other opportunities
Genish also said fixed wireless access is an extension of 5G and the new spectrum will provide “fixed wireless coverage with semi-fibre quality”. He added when all these pieces come together “telcos will have a more winning business model than we have today”.

The CEO noted the opportunity for operators to partner with different industries on IoT will open up many use cases that will greatly benefit them. He said his company has already worked with 35 partners to come up with 70 new industrial use cases, ranging from agriculture and health to smart cities, and there are 1,000 staff working on 5G patents and innovations.

Italy’s 5G auction ended last week and raised €6.5 billion, some €4 billion more than the minimum amount targeted by the government.

This was met with some criticism, as trade unions raised concerns that high prices could have an adverse impact on operators which are already in debt, while other observers said it will hinder investment in infrastructure.