Out-Law News 1 min. read

European Commission to work with Japan, China and the US on 5G mobile standard

The European Commission aims to create a single global 5G standard and global spectrum harmonisation, EU digital economy commissioner Gunther Oettinger said in a speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

The Commission hopes to sign agreements with "key regions of the world" including Japan, China and the US to create a single standard to "maximise global interoperability, and economies of scale", Oettinger said. The European Commission and the Republic of Korea signed a joint declaration on 5G in June 2014. 5G is the technology, standards and infrastructure needed to offer mobile users greater data capability than is available on 3G or 4G networks.  

5G, Oettinger said, "will become the infrastructure. Everybody and everything will use 5G. Anywhere, at any time, and on the move, always best connected with almost zero delay and a perceived limitless capacity."

"With 5G, telecom operators should be able to provide specialised network services to a series of new industry partners: from the automotive, to rail, health or energy sectors," he said. "To guarantee that connected cars will be able to react in less than one millisecond and avoid collisions. Or that telemedicine will save lives and not be stuck in traffic."

A 5G-Public Private Partnership was launched at Mobile World Congress last year, and has "delivered very convincing results" in the past year, Oettinger said, with €700 million (US$776 million) "earmarked … to get 5G up and running, while industry partners have committed to leverage the EU funding by up to five times".

Research grants of $125 million will soon be awarded to 20 projects working on "key building blocks" for 5G including network architectures, radio technologies, service platforms and innovative utilisations of spectrum, Oettinger said.

"They will place European actors in a very good position to contribute towards the future standardisation and spectrum milestones ahead of 5G," he said.

Challenges to the development of 5G include the need to identify new spectrum for high-performance 5G wireless broadband with a global footprint; to develop standards; and to create partnerships with 'vertical' industries, Oettinger said.

There can be no successful 5G deployment in Europe without coordination of spectrum assignments between countries, Oettinger said.

"Early identification of a 5G spectrum bands will contribute to Europe becoming a global hub for 5G development and investments. In the past, European position may have been fragmented, but we cannot afford it in the 5G race. We must build together a European approach in the international spectrum debates with other global actors," he said.

Standards development is due to begin in 2016, and Oettinger is keen to protect European and citizens' interests in terms of global interoperability and openness, he said.

"Reforms of the standardisation process, notably on intellectual property, must not discourage investment in research," he said.

Working systematically with industry is also vital, and adjusting regulations to ensure compatibility across sectors, Oettinger said. 

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