The Internet has come a long way. More than a third of the world population is now online. Smart mobile devices are growing ever more popular, as the number of mobile broadband users is expected to exceed 3.9 billion by 2017 (2013 GSMA figures).
Next generation of communication systems will be most probably the first instance of a truly converged network where wired and wireless communications will use the same infrastructure. This future ubiquitous, ultra-high bandwidth communication infrastructure, also known as 5G, will drive the future networked society.
The European telecommunications industry plays a crucial role in successfully developing 5G technologies, and making Europe the leader in the field, which would ensure EU economic growth and jobs. Currently, the industry ensures 1.3 million EU jobs, representing a mobile telecommunication economy of €160bn.
The average 10-year time cycle between two generations of communications infrastructures is quickly shrinking. Therefore, now it's time to kick-start 5G investment and position European industrial players in order to seize the first-mover advantage.
EU investment in 5G technology is particularly relevant in order to reinforce EU know-how and leadership in the field of ultrafast broadband, able to support the traffic expected in 2020. Such efforts will also boost networks and Internet architectures in emerging areas such as machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
On 17 December 2013, Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes signed an agreement with the ‘5G Infrastructure Partnership’ to usher in a new era in mobile network development. The Partnership is an industry association comprising public-private partners (the so-called 5G-PPP) and was represented at the signing by Hossein Moiin, Executive Vice-President of Technology and Innovation at Nokia Solutions and Networks, and Markus Weldon, President of Alcatel Lucent’s Bell Labs.
The Commission has set aside up to €700 million in public funding to develop the next generation of ubiquitous 5G communication systems during its seven-year Horizon 2020 programme. For its part, the private sector has agreed an ambitious set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to leverage this public stake – seeking a five-fold return on investment – and will support the Commission in analysing the effectiveness of the resulting research effort.
Key to the success of the 5G-PPP will be its ability to integrate various technologies and stakeholder groups. The 5G-PPP receives valuable support from the NetWorld2020 European Technology Platform (ETP), a research think tank with around 1000 members.