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EU ministers reach agreement on 5G roadmap

Matteo Natalucci Published 07 December 2017

EU goal is to achieve 5G connectivity across all major European cities and major transport routes by 2025


European telecommunications ministers have agreed on a joint roadmap for the development of 5G networks.

The roadmap aims to harmonise the 5G spectrum bands and their allocation to telecommunications operators.

The "fifth generation" of telecommunications systems, or 5G, will be the first instance of a truly converged network environment where wired and wireless communications will use the same infrastructure, benefiting the future networked society. It is expected to provide virtually ubiquitous, ultra-high bandwidth, "connectivity" not only to individual users but also to connected devices and applications, which could boost the development of smart cities and IoT services.

Urve Palo, the Estonian Minister for entrepreneurship and information technology, said, "The 5G roadmap lays out major activities and their time frame. With the roadmap, we agreed on plans for harmonising the technical use and purpose of the 5G spectrum and the allocation to telecommunications operators”.

 "By the year 2025, we want to see the presence of 5G connectivity in large cities and along major transport routes of every European country. These 5G networks are needed both for citizens and the devices that require reliable and high-speed internet access to cope with increasingly large quantities of data," added Palo.

This roadmap complements the new EU telecom code , which plans to make 5G spectrum-sharing easier and boost connectivity.

The code contains provisions which aim at making spectrum-sharing in 5G networks easier and promoting end-user access to WiFi-based connectivity, simplifying conditions for access to WiFi and for the deployment of low-power wireless broadband access (small cells) in order to meet the ever-growing demand for connectivity and reduce costs associated with very dense networks

The code also introduces the provision for a so-called “reverse 112 system” that will enable national authorities to alert citizens in the event of imminent major emergencies and disasters, such as a terrorist attack or a natural catastrophe, using geo-localisation tools. This system aims to reduce casualties by instructing people on what to do if they are in danger.

The new code includes a set of spectrum rules for mobile connectivity and 5G that aim to further increase co-ordination and coherence of spectrum management in Europe. New provisions include giving more prominence to general authorisations rather than individual licences, promoting shared use of spectrum, obligations on sharing infrastructure, and coordinating the timing of spectrum assignments. The revenue from auctions is to remain exclusively with EU Member States.

In October, Digital Minister Matt Hancock announced a UK government plan to launch a £25m competition to further 5G technology’s development across the country.

This first funding competition is for phase 1 of initial testbeds and trials projects that will help to develop the UK’s “5G ecosystem” whether by exploring the potential for 5G to deliver benefits for businesses; developing new 5G applications and services; developing and exploring new business models around key 5G technologies; or by reducing the commercial risks associated with investment in 5G.

The “5G Testbeds and Trials” competition is part of the UK Government’s £740m National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to support the next generation of digital infrastructure, including 5G and full fibre broadband.

This 5G innovation boost also comes on the back of the announcement that by the end of this year a government investment of £1.7bn will have supported the rollout of superfast broadband to 95% of the UK.

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