Broadband snapshots: Italy

Key points

  • The real-world broadband experience is highly dependent on the location of users’ homes, and users care about the experience where they live, and not nationally. Users’ speeds are higher on almost every ISP in urban areas, followed by suburban and rural areas.

  • We have seen high variability in the speeds experienced by our users on each ISP across the five regions, although some regions appeared to be consistently faster than others. Urban areas in Veneto as well as suburban and rural areas in Sicily showed particularly fast average speeds.

  • Out of Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Palermo, it was our Vodafone users in Turin who experienced the fastest average download and upload speeds, reaching 111.3 Mbps and 72.7 Mbps, respectively. However, we found a large variability in our users’ average speeds on each ISP across the five cities. In fact, all four ISPs appear at the top and bottom of at least one of the cities analyzed.

 

Analysis

Opensignal looked at the Italian broadband market and analyzed our users’ real-world experience when they connected using a selection of the country’s major Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Since users’ experience will vary depending on the location of their home and the broadband infrastructure that is available, which will not necessarily be the same across the country, we analyzed our users’ experience across a number of geographies to assess how the broadband experience on the same ISP varies across different locations. 

First, we looked at our users’ average experience in the five largest Italian regions on a selection of the country’s largest ISPs using Istat’s Degree of urbanisation classification, then we analyzed the average download and upload speeds our users experienced in the five largest cities by population.

Opensignal analyzed our smartphone users’ broadband experience in the urban and rural areas of Italy. We used the Degree of urbanisation classification adopted by Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Istat), which classifies all Italian municipalities into three types of areas: thinly populated (rural areas); intermediate density (towns, suburbs and small urban areas), and densely populated (cities and large urban areas).

Our users generally experienced faster download and upload speeds in urban areas, followed by suburban and rural areas, although we observed a few exceptions. For example, our users on Fastweb in Sicily on average experienced faster download speeds in the suburban areas with 44.6 Mbps rather than the urban areas where they saw on average 33.8 Mbps, while our WindTre users enjoyed faster average upload speeds in the rural areas rather than suburban areas of four out of the five regions we analyzed.

We have seen high variability in the speeds experienced by our users on each ISP across the five regions, even when focusing on a single urbanisation class. For example, our Fastweb users saw their slowest average download speed in Sicily — 33.8 Mbps — out of the five urban locales and their fastest in Veneto — 68.3 Mbps — marking a 34.5 Mbps difference between the two urban locales. We observed large differences for all ISPs across all urbanisation classes.

Some regions appeared to be consistently faster than others. Out of the urban areas across the five regions, our users on TIM, WindTre and Fastweb saw their fastest average download and upload speeds in Veneto, while our Vodafone users experienced their fastest average speeds in Sicily. In the case of the suburban areas, our users on all four ISPs experienced the fastest average download and upload speeds in Sicily. Finally, when focusing on the rural areas, we saw our users on TIM, Fastweb and Vodafone experienced their fastest average download speeds in Sicily, while our users on WindTre observed their fastest average download speeds in Lombardy.

We haven't seen a single operator dominate in either download or upload speeds across the fifteen locales as our users’ average broadband speeds varied a lot depending on their location. In fact, we observed all four ISPs feature at least once at the top and the bottom of our fifteen tables for both metrics.

 

We also looked at our users’ experience in the five largest Italian cities by population — Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Palermo. Again, we found a large variability in the speeds our users on each internet service provider experienced across the different locations with each of the four ISPs appearing at the top and bottom of at least one of the five tables.

Out of the five cities, it was our Vodafone users in Turin who experienced the fastest average download and upload speeds, reaching 111.3 Mbps and 72.7 Mbps, respectively.

Remarkably, we saw some of the lowest average download and upload speeds in Rome where our users’ fastest average download speeds did not exceed 60 Mbps, while in Milan, Naples and Turin they were higher than 90 Mbps on at least one ISP.

Italy’s fixed broadband market is extremely different from the mobile market, with multiple new factors determining users’ broadband experience. For example, the technology type of the broadband connecting a house — ADSL, VDSL, G.fast, wireless, fiber to the building (FTTB) and fiber to the premise (FTTH) — will determine the maximum speed a user will be able to access with their internet service provider. Additionally, Italian ISPs have different proportions of users connected with various broadband technology, which means that those ISPs with a larger share of FTTH or FTTB users in a certain area will generally have higher average speed scores compared to ISPs operating with older types of technologies. 

Moreover, in the broadband market it is much more common than in mobile to have unlimited packages with speed tiering, which means that users’ composition and choice of broadband packages will inevitably affect their download and upload speeds. The quality of home Wifi can also affect users’ experience which is why many ISPs supply their customers with home broadband routers that include Wifi to help them enjoy a good broadband experience. These and other factors help explain the variation in users’ real-world broadband experience.