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News :: Full ‘stream’ ahead for home-grown 5G

Full ‘stream’ ahead for home-grown 5G

(25/02/2014) Europe has launched a bold €700 million initiative to boost next-generation communications that will proudly bear the “made in Europe” label. This investment in fifth-generation (5G) internet and networks is being supported by Horizon 2020, the EU’s new Research and Innovation programme.

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 (H2020) 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 Net!Works European Technology Platform (ETP), a research  think tank with around 1000 members.

“The Partnership is a strategic research initiative being implemented under the new H2020 Research and Innovation programme,” notes the Commission’s future networks team. “Europe needs to set the pace of technological developments in 5G and to contribute to growth and new jobs.”

Today, the sector accounts for more than 1.7 million direct and indirect European jobs and supports the emergence of strategic European infrastructure which is critical to global economies. The launch of the 5G-PPP is part of a comprehensive innovation strategy, complementing the recent Telecommunications Single Market (TSM) regulatory package aimed at fostering the EU telecom market and industry of tomorrow.

Here, the Commission is clearly a pioneer, with its 5G initiatives being watched carefully by other regions of the world. Korea recently announced a €1.1 billion fund for research and development into 5G, while Japan and China also have nascent 5G initiatives. The Commission is keen to see global standards develop for 5G and will be working as closely as possible with these regional endeavours to achieve this.

Meanwhile, the first ‘5G-labelled’ projects in Europe were launched over a year ago and the ground for the 5G-PPP was first laid in Commissioner Kroes’ Mobile World Congress (MWC) speech last year. Europe has anticipated the importance of this topic and put in place the right framework to tackle this global challenge was the broad message.

Indeed, 5G is a real opportunity for European industry to reinvent itself, addressing such challenges as:

  • The capacity and spectrum crunch due to the soaring popularity of mobile internet use (a 1000-fold capacity increase is needed, requiring a new approach to mobile access networks and spectrum management)
  • Quality-of-service issues, whatever the service requirements, from very low traffic sensor networks to very high U-HDTV data rates, and adapted to the requirements of different businesses (so-called ‘verticals’)
  • Seamless convergence of mobile and fixed access, with access rates up to 10 Gb/s and under ‘ABC’ (always best connected) conditions for true continuous coverage across the Union
  • Drastic reduction of capital and operational expenditure (Capex and Opex) to increase competitiveness in the sector, notably through more systematic adoption of the virtualisation and software technologies of cloud computing applied to network architectures
  • A revamped security and network management framework tackling, in particular, security issues raised by the massive adoption of software techniques in a critical – and still open – infrastructure
  • Drastic improvement in energy consumption aligned with the introduction of innovative services.

These are typical ‘framing requirements’ that the 5G-PPP will tackle, and for which precise KPIs have been identified jointly with the industry association. This work also represents a clear imperative for the traditional telecom sector to work very closely with other sectors, most notably the IT, microelectronics and ‘user’ sectors. This is expected to support the emergence of a renewed industrial landscape in Europe, with increased innovation, agility and time to market capabilities.

According to the Commission, 2014 will be a critical year for the 5G-PPP, with significant investments called for by both public and private partners. The Commission kicked things off with its first call under H2020 in this area worth €125 million and lasting two years.

“We trust that the industry association will make every effort to effectively communicate and engage with a broad base of relevant stakeholders beyond the sole telecom community, which is a key success factor for such an ambitious and multifaceted initiative,” suggests the team behind the call.

More info

Website Towards 5G

Fact sheet 5G Infrastructure PPP: The next generation of communication networks will be ‘Made in EU’

 News ‘5G’ technology: EU challenges ahead!

 Press Release EUR 50 million EU research grants in 2013 to develop '5G' technology

 Speech Smashing barriers and thinking big

 Report Future Networks 11th Concertation Meeting, Panel Session ‘5G: Challenges ahead’

Website Net!Works