Major European telecoms firms to drive roll out of 5G across continent

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5gA coalition of twenty major European telecommunications firms has come together to drive the rapid creation of a continent wide 5G network and warn national Governments and the EU of the dangers of over-regulation. The seven page document entitled the 5G Manifesto for timely deployment of 5G in Europe, is backed by firms such as Vodafone, Telenor, Orange, Nokia, BT, Ericsson, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, and Hutchison. Its core aim is to showcase the technology on a large scale by 2018 and launch a commercial network capability in at least one city in every EU nation by 2020. The document outlines the features and benefits of the technology but also sets out the potential risks posed by over-regulation, including the possible threat to net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites

“The telecom Industry warns that the current net neutrality guidelines, as put forward by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), create significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment,” the document suggests. “Investments are therefore likely to be delayed unless regulators take a positive stance on innovation and stick to it.”

Gunther Oettinger, the European Commission’s digital chief, said he welcomed the manifesto and discussions with the coalition. “These will help us focus on the key levers to ensure European digital leadership in 5G,” Oettinger said, according to Ars Technica UK. “The manifesto is a valuable input for the 5G action plan that will be presented in September, together with the proposal for the review of the telecom regulatory framework.”

The Manifesto outlines the main opportunities and challenges linked to the deployment of infrastructure in Europe. In particular, it provides recommendations for a common vision and a calendar for deployment of investments, standards and the synchronised introduction of services in Europe. It underlines the need for spectrum and improved regulatory conditions in terms of local installation of cells, open internet rules which promote innovation, data protection and fair use.

When drawing up its Action Plan, the Commission will consider the industry analysis and recommendations, alongside other inputs, and in particular from the consultation, which is open until 11th July. The Action Plan will be presented in September, at the same time as the proposal for the review of the telecom regulatory framework.

The 5G Manifesto

The telecom companies propose a challenging calendar for the introduction of networks across Europe. They commit to starting large-scale demonstrations by 2018 and launching 5G commercially in at least one city in each of the 28 Member States by 2020. This responds to Commissioner Oettinger’s call of 23rd February at the Mobile World Congress 2016 to raise our ambitions to make Europe a leader in 5G deployment. The manifesto also underlines the importance of sectors such as automotive or media in the development and deployment of the networks and the need to work together to create business models, services and products.

Some highlights of the manifesto include:

  • 5G as key enabler for the digitalisation of the European economy
  • The Commission and Member States should promote the benefits of 5G networks to meet connectivity needs of vertical industries and public institutions
  • Ecosystem-forming initiatives by industry players and the role of EU
  • The industry is committed to pan-European trials in areas such as connective automotive; connected eHealth, transport and logistics, Public Safety, smart grids, smart cities, media and entertainment. In 2017, it will deliver a roadmap for trials and demonstrators to start in 2018.
  • Industry calls on the Commission to use existing instruments such as EFSI and structural funds to create a €1 billion 5G venture fund to take equity stakes in European innovative startups aiming at developing 5G technologies and applications across verticals.

An action plan unfolding in a Digital Single Market

  • The manifesto calls for timely identification and granting of spectrum for 5G including 700 MHz, 3.4-3.8GHz and higher frequency bands ( for 24 GHz and beyond) at the latest by 2020.
  • Investments at the centre of a Policy Framework
  • The manifesto calls on the Commission to adapt the regulatory environment, increasing emphasis on investment including R&D and for Member States to adapt local regulations to facilitate the construction of denser networks

Next steps for the 5G Action Plan

During the Mobile World Congress in February, Commissioner Oettinger announced his intention to come up with an ambitious 5G Action Plan, presenting the agenda, measures and investments needed to rollout essential 5G infrastructure in the EU. He also called on “vertical sectors” like automotive, health, smart factories and logistics, energy, media and entertainment to work together with the Commission in building the future market of 5G products and services.

The 5G Action Plan will be developed and issued by the Commission as a Communication, in a package together with the European Commission’s review of the telecom regulatory framework, to be published in autumn.

The main objectives of the 5G Action Plan will be to:

  • Make Europe a leader in deploying world class connectivity infrastructure, addressing key societal challenges (automotive, health, digital factories) whilst providing competitiveness opportunities for the EU ICT sectors, and competitiveness gains for the whole economy including all the vertical sectors that will modernise their production processes and services.
  • Consolidate the position of EU industry as lead supply industry for advanced ICT products and services
  • Leverage the results of the 5G Public Private Partnership and complement it by addressing barriers to market roll-out which are beyond research in technology and come from business models, investment and regulation.