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Vodafone's 4G dominance under threat in Italy's regions

Italy is a wonderfully colourful nation with a proud regional heritage, perhaps best reflected in its rich and varied cuisine, which is famed the world over. In the North, Bologna is the home of the true ragu, while Parma has its hams and cheeses. Towards the centre of the country, Rome lays claim to carbonara and amatriciana pasta sauces, whereas Umbria is known for its pork products, especially salami and prosciutto. In the South, Naples prides itself on inventing pizza, Campania has Buffalo Mozzarella, while Calabria is known for its spicy pepper dishes. And of the islands, Sicily is famed for cannoli and arancini, whereas Sardinia has its seafood.

Italians have spent centuries debating who has the finest cuisine, but now they have something new to contest: the quality of their regional 4G services. So how do Italy's mobile operators perform in OpenSignal's regional 4G user experience metrics? OpenSignal has taken a deep dive into regional data to see how the four operators we covered in our recent State of Mobile Networks: Italy report stacked up in 4G download speed and 4G availability.

Our latest State of Mobile Networks report saw Vodafone dominating our national awards table, winning four categories including 4G download speed and 4G availability. And this success was mirrored in Italy's regions, where the operator won seven out of our 12 regional awards and drew with TIM in the other five. But as with our national categories, the former incumbent is pressuring Vodafone in almost all of our regional metrics.  

Italy regions map

Vodafone dominated our 4G availability regional metrics table fairly comfortably, winning outright in the Central, North East, North West, Sardinia and South regions, and scoring a draw with TIM in Sicily. Vodafone also managed 4G availability scores of over 80% in every region in our measurements. But its closest rival TIM is not far behind the leader, with less than 6 percentage points separating the two in four of the regions. Of the other operators, 3 Italia and Wind were some way behind the leaders, by at least 10 percentage points in most instances, while we saw a second close-run race between these two for third place.

In terms of 4G speed, the race between Vodafone and TIM was even closer. The two drew in our 4G download speed metric in the North East, North West, Sardinia and Sicily regions, while Vodafone led in both Central and South. Wind came in a fairly distant fourth, scoring average 4G download speeds of less than 20 Mbps in every region in our measurements.

  Italy's cuisine is as varied and colourful as its culture. And competition in the mobile sector also just got a lot more more varied and colourful, with the recent debut of French player Iliad, and the buyout of Wind by 3 Italia owner CK Hutchison. We're already starting to see Iliad show up in our 4G data as the operator ramps up its services and they will soon debut in our public reports. We expect to see competition reach fever pitch as Iliad's low-cost offers spark a price war, while the newly-merged Wind Tre should prove a force to be reckoned with, especially after the provider completes the operational merger of its network and starts offering a unified 4G service. We'll be watching this market closely and tracking all the changes in our metrics over the next few years.

What's your experience of 4G in Italy's regions? And what changes do you see following the debut of Iliad and the merger of Wind Tre? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out our most recent State of Mobile Networks: Italy report.