May 24, 2023

ADSL, FTTC and FTTH: connection speed map in Italy

An in-depth overview of the Italian connectivity situation.

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Those involved in web development or optimization of web and video performance Core Web Vitals, are often accustomed to running tests using tools at their disposal or services such as PageSpeed ​​Insight and similar. However, even for these professionals, the vision of connectivity in Italy can be difficult and unclear.

Although we hear a lot about Fiber and 5G connections, promising high speed and low latency, the situation in Italy is still cause for concern. This leads to the need for a clearer and more detailed understanding, and for this reason we have decided to provide in-depth documentation on the subject.

Paradoxically, developing a website for a local business in Sardinia requires more attention than creating a website for a business based in the heart of Milan. This is because differences in connectivity between different Italian regions can greatly affect the user experience, navigation efficiency and overall website performance.

The transformation in the use of the internet connection is evolving rapidly and irreversibly, with an increasingly urgent need for bandwidth that coincides with the new normalities we are getting used to.

Without going into detail on the effect that smart working or distance learning may have had on individual domestic situations in recent years for those who did not yet have a fixed connection, if we focus on the type of content most frequently used and downloaded, data recently released byAgcom (Communications Guarantee Authority) they might be useful.

In particular, the popularity of video streaming (on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch, along with the "rest" of social media) and the wide availability of on-demand content (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, just to name a few) have brought to a total of 44,2 million monthly hours spent by Italians on the main platforms that offer these services over the last year.

This behavior obviously pushes users towards commercial offers capable of providing maximum browsing speed and accessibility, while having to take into account the quality of the network guaranteed by the infrastructure in their own residential area.

For this reason, after having examined the situation in the various Italian municipalities last year, we decided to take into consideration the coverage maps of the public and private networks provided by Agcom, based on the INSPIRE 1Km grid for ADSL, FTTC, FTTC+ and FTTH extension.

In the graphs below, each cell of the grid has been colored in six different speed ranges (expressed in Megabits per second), which can be examined more closely by zooming in on the map. Furthermore, for a complete layered image with respect to the main picture shown on the map, the specific distribution of the six speed categories is also available, for which an additional map has been created showing the individual cells scattered over the territory.

Before we look at the charts, let's look at a brief introduction for those who may not be familiar with the abbreviations we mentioned earlier regarding service type.

In order of connection speed and quality, let's start with:

  • ADSL, which should have been a known term for at least twenty years and allows data transmission over traditional telephone lines, as the first level of fixed connectivity.
  • FTTC, or Fiber To The Cabinet, is a technology in which the signal travels through the optical fiber to a common closet, from which it continues to individual homes via a copper cable. Its evolution, FTTC+, is an improvement that supports speeds of up to 200 Megabits per second.
  • The most advanced solution is FTTH (Fiber To The Home), which allows optical fiber to be brought directly into homes, thus offering superior performance without the compromise of switching to copper for the last stretch of the line.

Taking a first “quantitative” look at the data, it is clear that more than half of the more than 113 total readings fall within the slower speed range, with more than 59 values ​​within ten Megabits per second.

These red dots, very numerous, are practically distributed over the whole peninsula, with the exception of some areas where there is no data, as well as for the next interval (10-30 Mbit/s), colored in orange and which represents the second largest group in terms of number of points, with about a fifth of the total.

The yellow tones, divided between ocher (30-50) and lemon (50-100), combined together represent over 21 surveys which, unlike the previous cases, do not appear either on the Apennine axis or on the more mountainous part of the north , and they are also scarcely present on the two islands, particularly in Sardinia, which, compared to Sicily, seems to be far behind in terms of internet speed.

Connections with performance exceeding 100 Megabits per second (100-250 and 250-1000), even considering the two values ​​as a single wider range (6321 and 2366 respectively), do not exceed 7% of the total and, as can be seen from the related maps, they have a much more selective concentration than the broader coverage previously analysed.

For the areas indicated with a lighter green tone, the distribution covers fairly large areas, such as the entire Po Valley, the Triveneto, all of Puglia and a good part of Sicily, as well as areas adjacent to large cities. For networks with the fastest speeds, represented in dark green, the situation is much more limited.

Although they are present in all regions, albeit in variable quantities, it is clear that their distribution is closely linked to the presence of large cities and capitals, confirming that there is still a lot to do to guarantee everyone the same accessibility to more advanced services, regardless of the area of ​​residence.

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