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Home » 5G Infrastructure, Europe

We need a proper roadmap for building the 5G ecosystem

Submitted by on 24 Oct 2018 – 10:00

Developing and accelerating 5G infrastructure is a key enabler for the Digital Single Market. The deployment and utilisation of 5G wireless systems is essential for the EU to remain at the forefront of global digital innovation. Delivering the optimum level of regulation, standardisation and architecture is essential for 5G maximisation across multiple verticals. Michal Boni MEP calls for a proper roadmap to build the 5G ecosystem

It can be a key enabler — not only for a better generation of internet networks, but for a new wave of the digital revolution. 5G is bound to change productivity and transform many industries. It will provide a strong background for the data-driven economy and thus change the economy horizontally. It will generate completely new services through various types of apps and systems, new possibilities for healthcare delivery, education, autonomous driving, tailored entertainment and commercial services tailored to customers’ expectations.

However, we need to know more about 5G as a unique system and about all its technical challenges. It is time for all partners and the European Commission, in cooperation with industries and research institutions, to test and re-test solutions related to the network latency and responsiveness, increased network capacity and data rate requirements.

It is crucial to speed up the work on standardisation and stimulate 5G trials in cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This will give the industry the green light to accelerate the design and implementation of equipment adhering to the standards. It is equally important for low-frequency bands, midrange and the high-frequency end of the spectrum.

For proper implementation, the spectrum needs of 5G should be segmented into three key frequency ranges: up to 1GHz, between 1 and 6 GHz and over 6 GHz.

A harmonised spectrum allocation is a necessary condition for the successful implementation of 5G. It requires a common understanding of the 5G objectives across all member states. All countries should prepare national broadband plans, adjusted to the needs and requirements of 5G. We also need 5G strategies on a regional level among Baltic and Scandinavian countries.

European institutions have a political duty to stimulate countries to implement 5G strategies; however, we cannot set up a 5G ecosystem without an adequate and friendly environment for investment. We need proper, complementary financial sources for 5G in the current and future EU budgets, in the CEF, in EFSI and in national envelopes for cohesion policy.

5G will require a step up in investment in mobile access points and fixed infrastructure. Achieving a dense deployment of 5G infrastructure will require the simplification of rules and future-oriented solutions that favour investment and innovation.

It means long-term licences, infrastructure-based competition, flexible conditions for co-investments and certainty for business models. It also means the removal of barriers, including right way for the installation of passive facilities, favourable rental charges for municipal sites and the removal of taxation on sites and antennae, as well as predictable and harmonised electromagnetic field emissions limits set in accordance with current knowledge rather than stereotypes.

A lot of positive developments were achieved in the European Electronic Communication Code (EECC), but in my view they will turn out to be insufficient.

We need a proper roadmap to build the 5G ecosystem.

It is important to have well-thought-out expectations based on the future benefits and advantages to consumers, a list of decisions and frameworks, a list of targeted actions, standardisation based on industry-led processes, and tests and large-scale pilots in all sectors involved and in all member states. In addition, we also should establish a public communication campaign on the advantages of 5G from a user’s perspective, as this could create a stronger demand for 5G solutions.

A new, redefined roadmap will bring the necessary changes into this timetable: launching the pre-commercial 5G trials, launching the early 5G networks (in 2018?), launching fully commercial 5G services by the end of 2020 (is it still possible?), making the pioneer bands available ahead of the WRC-19 (will member states be ready?), and launching 5G in at least one major city in every member state by 2020.

Unfortunately, I think we are slightly delayed.

Therefore, the last year of the current term of the European Commission should focus on finalising crucial preparatory works, starting with the implementation of the proper EECC, pushing politically for as much harmonisation as possible for spectrum allocation decisions and reshaping the timetable in cooperation with all member states and partners. Doing this would make the 5G roadmap one of this Commission’s most important achievements.