5G: how EU is helping to turn it into an engine for growth 

 
 

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With the deployment of 5G capable of generating 2.3 million jobs in the EU, Parliament believes it is crucial to coordinate EU countries' actions on this

The next generation of the mobile network - known as 5G - promises to deliver a range of new services thanks to its ultra-fast connection and quick respond time. This could be anything from remote surgery to cars communicating directly to each other to avoid accidents. However, to make this a reality large sums of money will still need to be invested in equipment and the spectrum. Governments can help by making it easier to invest in this and by allocating new radio frequences for 5G in a timely and coordinated manner.

The European Commission has prepared an action plan to facilitate the deployment of 5G across the EU. MEPs voted in favour of supporting the plan on 1 June, but stressed that coordination between EU countries would be crucial to avoid delays that were experienced when 4G was introduced as not enough spectrum was available.

Polish EPP member Michał Boni, the MEP responsible for steering the plan through Parliament, warned: "The member states have to understand that we have to avoid the fragmentation of decisions and solutions if we want to achieve the 5G objectives.”

He also stressed the importance of making it easier to invest in this: “Investments are the key for achieving 5G goals. The simplification of legal framework, flexible models for co-investments and long-term certainty and predictability are required.”

Financing

MEPs are also calling on the Commission to come up with a strategy for the financing of 5G, which is likely to involve both public and private investment.

According to the Commission, commercial 5G services could already be launched in 2020, while coverage for urban areas and major roads and railways could be in place by 2025.

Additional measures

In July MEPs will vote on another set of proposals designed to improve the use of radio frequences and make it more attractive for companies to invest in new high-capacity networks.

Digitalisation strategy

On 1 June MEPs also adopted a resolution in which they called on the European Commission to develop an integrated digitalisation strategy.

German Greens/EFE member Reinhard Bütikofer, who wrote the resolution, said: “Digitalisation could help improve labour conditions, offering workers more friendly working hours.”