Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Focus

EU and telecoms firms target 5G benefits

  • Concrete plans for a roll-out of the 5G system are expected by the end of the year. (Photo: WMC)

The race is on for European companies to secure a part of the profits that will come from connecting all sorts of everyday devices to the internet – the so-called Internet of Things.

To make this a reality, the European Commission and industry sectors are investing billions of euros in the development of 5G - a newer internet with a much greater capacity than currently available.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona at the end of February gave an indication of how smart homes, connected cars, and digital wearables could affect our lives. This year’s four-day congress featured more than 2,000 exhibitors and 100,000 visitors.

The displays included homes with digitally connected fridges, heating and lights; cars that drive by themselves; rubbish bins that inform the council when they are full; and a cow pedometer that helps farmers to know when cows are ready give birth.

Chips are now small and efficient enough to make anything from toothbrushes to bridges "smart". The connectivity is expected to transform a host of markets, with companies able to boost profits by using the data collected in the cloud to offer new kinds of services.

Although the Internet of Things is already here, it will increase and expand rapidly over the next few years. According to Cisco – a US technology firm - the number of connected devices will grow from roughly seven billion now, to 50 billion in 2020, and to hundreds of billions in the decade after that.

“We’re on the front end of the most phenomenal technology revolution that we have ever seen,” said Cisco boss Chuck Robbins at the congress.

“The pace of change is something that we have never witnessed before.”

He said almost every company is looking into how to use the technology to fundamentally change their business models.

Guo Ping, chief of Chinese phone maker Huawei, said: “In our future digital society, connections will be like oxygen.”

However, the current 4G network will not be able to cope with the interconnectivity and data transmission expected in the near future. The 5G network promises tenfold increases in data-transmission speeds.

5G 'essential'

The European Commission has earmarked €700 million to be spent on 5G by 2020 as part of its public-private partnership launched in 2013. The private sector has committed more than €3 billion.

“With the digital revolution in full swing, the successful digitisation is the fundamental precondition and source of competitiveness for our industry for the decades to come,” said Gunther Oettinger, the EU commissioner for digital economy and society.

“Making 5G a reality in Europe by 2020 will be essential for the success of key sectors like automotive, health and digital manufacturing.”

The commissioner joined bosses from car and telecoms firms at an informal discussion at the congress, where he urged them to move quickly, particularly on self-driving cars.

“Europe needs to be the first to deploy connected and automated driving,” he said.

“Only then can European businesses set the technical and business standards and thereby occupy the field before others do.”

Concrete plans for a roll-out of the 5G system are expected by the end of the year.

“Important standardisation milestones are ahead of us,” Oettinger said about the 2019 World Radio Conference, when 5G frequency bands will be identified and allocated.

He asked for European member states to stick together in international negotiations on standardisation of 5G that will secure worldwide interoperability. “We need one coherent European team or we will fail,” he said.

Oettinger said that Europe could be introduced to the abilities of 5G in time for the Euro 2020 football championship.

But competition is fierce. South Korea has promised to have some 5G technology in use for its 2018 Winter Olympics, Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE are investing heavily in 5G, and three US companies have announced they will test their 5G later this year.

EU rules on 700 MHz: technical issue or power grab?

The EU executive is trying to convince EU countries to commit to some coordination in the assignment of a specific set of radio frequencies, after it failed to garner support for broader, common rules.

Stakeholder

Challenges for a driverless future

Advancing towards a driverless future brings on a new set of challenges and questions on how connectivity and mobility will affect all aspects of life.

Opinion

Enough with EU's empty words on 5G

With its current policies on telecoms, the EU has set the stage for USA and Asia and handed them the trophy without even attempting to win it ourselves.

Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation

National governments secured a one-year extension for publishing plans to make radio frequencies available for mobile communications - but some were nevertheless unable to meet the deadline.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  2. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  3. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  4. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  5. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  6. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  7. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  8. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us