PEN charts the innovations that are shaping the future internet, and explores how they might impact the daily lives of Europeans.
EU member states are racing towards the internet of the future, in the form of 5G. In 2013, the European Commission signed a joint agreement with the 5G Infrastructure Association, representing prominent figures of the industry. The agreement formed the Public Private Partnership 5G PPP, bolstering commitment to the future of internet development. The European Commission dedicated €700m in public funding, through the Horizon 2020 framework programme, while a further €3bn is expected to be contributed by industry members throughout the EU. Here Government Europa Quarterly discusses the pace of adoption of 5G technologies across EU member states.
Reported by the commission during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in March 2015, the European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Günther Oettinger, said: “Europe has the industrial base, the knowhow and excellent research teams to deliver the future 5G digital infrastructure. I am determined to favour one single global standard for 5G. This will enhance economies of scale and scope, and deliver the digital society and economy of tomorrow.”
5G will also offer high volumes at high access rates; improved connection rates; energy efficiency; and secure networks, amongst other improvements.
A 5G roadmap was agreed amongst European telecom ministers in 2017. It is anticipated that the roadmap will chaperone 5G connectivity into larger cities by 2025, as well as along major transport routes of European countries. RCRWireless reported that the Estonian Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, Urve Palo, said: “5G networks are needed both for citizens and devices that require reliable and high-speed internet access to cope with increasingly large quantities of data.”
In December 2017 the UK government released an update to ‘Next Generation Mobile Technologies: An Update to the 5G Strategy for the UK’. It says: ‘In July, we awarded £16 million (~€18.1m) to leading UK research institutions … And at the Budget we announced a further investment of £160 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund for the next phase of funding for our 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme.’ 5G networks will enable the download of gigabyte-sized files, support for 3D and HD monitors and cloud network compatibility. In the future, 5G will structurally support smart cities, and the buildings within them.
A GSMA study of 5G – The Mobile Economy Europe 2017 – suggests that in excess of 30% of the mobile connections in Europe will be operating on 5G networks by 2025. In 2020, the first commercial networks are due to be switched on by 2020, providing an estimated three quarters of Europe’s population with the advanced network coverage in the lead up to 2025.
Director general of GSMA, Mats Granryd, said in a press release: “Europe has an opportunity to re-establish itself as a global technology leader as we move toward the 5G era, but this can only happen if policymakers move quickly and boldly to make the necessary regulatory reforms to boost the region’s competitiveness on the global stage and bring innovative services to Europe’s citizens”.
He added that the mobile economy contributed to 1.1 million jobs in 2016, whilst the ecosystem of the industry contributed to €100bn of public funding in the same year. The number of SIM connections in 2016 stood at 752 million, and is expected to reach 882 million by 2020.
This article will appear in Government Europa Quarterly 24, which will be published in January, 2018.