ETSI Technology Awareness Roadshow – SMEs experiment with 5G and IoT at TIM Open Lab

Have you ever wondered how a telecommunication signal travels from a base station to your home? Or how a smart city can monitor parking spots in real time?


Sebastiano Tofaletti, Secretary General of European DIGITAL SME Alliance talks about importance of SBS in standardisation process

A sunny 4th of July in Turin set the stage for the pilot session of the technology awareness roadshow for SMEs. This initiative by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute ETSI intends to raise awareness among SMEs across Europe about the benefits of using technological solutions based on standards, such as, telecommunications (5G), Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity. Italy was chosen by ETSI as the pilot country in Europe and TIM hosted the first event. Among many  industrial stakeholders, the main supporters of the Italian Roadshow are the Italian Digital SME Alliance and Small Business Standards SBS. The second edition will be hosted by the Italian defence and aerospace giant Leonardo in Rome later this year.

Gathered at the Telecom Italia headquarters in Turin, more than 40 representatives of small businesses, SME organisation, standardisation bodies, European Commission and academia participated at a lively morning exchange. Welcoming words from Antonio Conte Directorate General on Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW), highlighted the European Commission efforts to facilitate SMEs access to the standard bodies, as part of inclusiveness policies necessary to foster an effective European Digital Single Market. Following, Pierpaolo Marchese from ETSI stressed once more the importance of greater inclusion of SMEs within standardisation bodies. Not only for SMEs representatives to gain more preeminent roles but to nurture overall participation in the decision-making process. In parallel, leverage on ETSI to increase SMEs skills on digitalisation.  On the subject, Emilio Posca brought a passionate testimonial on how standards can be beneficial to SMEs and their business model. On another note, Enrico Scarrone from ETSI highlighted that, despite the dramatic potential and its leading role in new ICT standards, 5G alone is not enough to change the “game”. There’s a pressing need to work horizontally with companies to guarantee the best use of technology that fuels innovation and competitiveness.

Demonstration of Hybrid Access Solution at TIM Innovation Lab

Passing through the well-curated corridors of the TIM Museum the group wandered through old mobile phones sparkling nostalgia. Finally, the participants were able to have an overview of the TIM Open Lab. This lab is a tool that TIM implemented to foster collaboration with industry partners and frequently SMEs. Here, new services and devices are tested and developed using the most advanced standards technologies. The guests were invited to get hands-on demonstrations of different new technologies. The first stop was at the INNOVATION LAB. A friendly and well-spoken TIM engineer led the guests through a path that mirrored an entire telecommunication infrastructure, from base station to end consumer (home). Everyone was welcome to play around with different gadgets, routers, antennas and whatnot. The most impressive takeout was to see hardware and software evolution that results in a massive reduction in infrastructure size while still increasing efficiency, mostly due to the advancement of fibre optic cables and 5G antennas.

Excavation replica for installing co-axial cable
Less depth and width for fibre Optic cable

Second stage of the tour took place at the Wireless Lab. Here, the visiting group tested 5G connectivity and played around with the new antenna poles which differently to its predecessor can brag a maximum of 64 logical antenna port per array. In a nutshell, to grasp 5G technology is to understand primarily two concepts: flexibility and intelligence. The flexibility regards 5G capacity to adapt to user needs. For example, the most important feature when communicating with a water measuring sensor 15 meter below the ground are improved battery life and consistency in signal reach.

Wireless Lab TIM

This flexibility also means that 5G can adapt and convert its signal to decrease latency to a minimum which is the main necessity for a “self-driving” car (if the car in front of you brakes abruptly you would prefer a few millisecond than the current 4G based 20-40 millisecond  signal exchange). To cope with this adaptability the system requires intelligence. Artificial Intelligence is bridging the gap towards a more efficient and functional widespread use of 5G technologies building on standards that are already developed.

TIM Open Air Lab

The experience finished at the garden filled with sensors called “Open Air Lab”. Here, it was shown on a 60’ touch-screen display a live overview of current IoT projects around Torino and other European cities: from parking sensors to traffic cameras and smart watering measurement.

The successful piloting of the ETSI Technology Awareness roadshow in Torino sets the tone and the standard (pun intended) for future stages. Next edition will be hosted by the Leonardo (Defence and Aerospace multinational company).

Fabio Massimo, President of Italian Digital SME Alliance

The ambition and desire of all stakeholders involved in this initiative are to educate SMEs about the benefits of standards. Therefore, the direct participation of SMEs is key to raise awareness, increase technological spill over and foster innovation. Standards and SMEs are key to the future competitive edge of the digital sector in Europe.

Partners of the first edition of the ETSI Technology Awareness Roadshow for SMEs


Below you can view and download all presentations (Italian language):

  1. I laboratori TIM e gli standard – TIM
  2. EU Standardisation Policy – European Commission
  3. ETSI Overview & SMEs in ETSI – ETSI
  4. Iniziative e finanziamenti UE per la partecipazione delle PMI nella normazione – European DIGITAL SME Alliance
  5. ETSI Technology Awareness Roadshow – TIM/ETSI
  6. Standards & SMEs – NEWEN
  7. Leonardo e le PMI, il prossimo evento del Roadshow