The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - December 28

The mobile phone continues to take over the world. If the media and telecommunications companies are right, we will all soon be watching films, live television and operating our garage doors with one. The mobile will be the universal all-purpose device.

This is especially true in Italy, in some senses the spiritual home of the mobile and the place where many new services are trialled first. Italy is the only country where you can end a phone call by shouting "Ciao!" and not be pretentious. The Italians do not say "Ciao!" though, they say "Ciao-ciao!" or even "Ciao-ciao-ciao-ciao!" almost as if they do not know how many are suitable.

Wireless Intelligence, the research group, says the ratio of mobile phone connections to people in Italy is higher than any other western European country except Luxembourg. "Mobile penetration" is 118 per cent, meaning that one in five Italians has two phones. You can see them and all the wires unloaded from pockets before they sit down for their aperitivi.

Telecom Italia this month announced that from next year it will be selling kit that can turn your phone into a remote control. It will operate household appliances, TV set-top boxes and "a host of home electronics devices". Next time you roll over on the sofa, the mobile in your pocket will accidentally order up a pornographic movie, dispense your dog's worming pills, recharge your car battery and fill your fridge with milk.