The 5G for Europe Action Plan is a European Commission initiative that tasks all parties in all member states with making a coordinated European 5G network standard a reality by 2020.
On September 14 2016, the Commission announced plans to boost European 5G efforts across the Digital Single Market, and to make Europe a worldwide leader in 5G implementation.
What is the European Commission?
The European Commission is the executive arm of the European Union, which means it’s responsible for proposing and implementing legislation across the EU. It’s essentially a European government charged with running the day-to-day business of the EU.
What is the Digital Single Market?
The European Commission agreed to work towards a Digital Single Market back in May 2015. Its goal is to improve access to digital goods and services for businesses and individual citizens across Europe by the end of 2016.
The intention is to provide equal, unrestricted access to online services regardless of nationality or place of residence. Think of it as Europe-wide freedom of movement, but across virtual rather and physical borders.
High-capacity 5G networks, all operating to the same technological standards and developed according to the same schedule, will be essential to establishing such a Digital Single Market across Europe.
What is the purpose of the 5G for Europe Action Plan?
The European Commission’s action plan sets out a clear roadmap for investment in 5G networks in the EU. It proposes an early network introduction by 2018, the availability of provisional 5G spectrum bands ahead of the 2019 World Radio Communication Conference (followed by additional bands), and a large-scale commercial 5G rollout by the end of 2020.
The 5G for Europe Action Plan also recommends that the industry establishes a venture fund to support 5G-based innovation. Remote collaboration using VR, online health monitoring, connected and self-driving cars, and drone deliveries are all cited as potential new markets enabled by 5G.
Above all, the 5G for Europe Action Plan is intended to be a coordinating force. The lack of European cooperation led to the delayed and fragmented rollout of 4G across the EU. The result of this is that while last year 75 percent of Americans had access to 4G, only 28 percent of Europeans could claim the same thing.
When will the 5G spectrum be decided?
The plan outlines the need to unlock spectrum bottlenecks ahead of 5G’s 2020 rollout. This will be on the agenda for the World Radio Conference 2019, which is expected to designate new frequency bands above 6GHz.
However, the EC plan is to identify preliminary EU-wide spectrum bands prior to this event. It will work with member states to identify provisional 5G spectrum bands by the end of 2016 across three main categories: below 1 GHz, between 1 GHz and 6 GHz, and above 6 GHz.
The following action point in the plan is to agree by the end of 2017 on the full set of spectrum bands.
What are the key steps to the plan?
There has already been significant groundwork undertaken in the lead up to the 5G for Europe Action Plan.
Back in 2013, the EC set up the 5G-PPP (Public-Private-Partnership), which committed €700 million to the research of 5G technology.
The first action the 5G for Europe Action Plan stipulates is to promote preliminary trials of this 5G technology from 2017 onwards. EU member states will also be encouraged to develop their own 5G rollout roadmaps by the end of 2017, and every state will also be required to nominate at least one major city to be ‘5G enabled’ by the end of 2020.
Ultimately, the 5G for Europe Action Plan aims to ensure that all urban areas and major terrestrial transport paths in each EU territory have uninterrupted, cross-border, 5G coverage by 2025. At which point, presumably, its work will be complete.