The 5G Action Plan is a strategic initiative which concerns all stakeholders, private and public, small and large, in all Member States, to meet the challenge of making 5G a reality for all citizens and businesses by the end of this decade.

Very high-capacity networks like 5G will be a key asset for Europe to compete in the Global market, with worldwide 5G revenues for mobile operators expected to reach €225 billion annually by 2025.

On 14 September 2016, the Commission launched a plan to boost EU efforts for the deployment of 5G infrastructures and services across the Digital Single Market by 2020. The action plan set out a clear roadmap for public and private investment on 5G infrastructure in the EU. A staff working document accompanies the action plan communication.

To achieve that, the Commission proposes the following measures:

  • Align roadmaps and priorities for a coordinated 5G deployment across all EU Member states, targeting early network introduction by 2018, and moving towards commercial large scale introduction by the end of 2020 at the latest.
  • Make provisional spectrum bands available for 5G ahead of the 2019 World Radio Communication Conference (WRC-19), to be complemented by additional bands as quickly as possible, and work towards a recommended approach for the authorisation of the specific 5G spectrum bands above 6GHz.
  • Promote early deployment in major urban areas and along major transport paths.
  • Promote pan-European multi-stakeholder trials as catalysts to turn technological innovation into full business solutions.
  • Facilitate the implementation of an industry-led venture fund in support of 5G-based innovation.
  • Unite leading actors in working towards the promotion of global standards.

The EU Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP) launched in 2013 has put Europe clearly in the forefront of the current research phase, as compared to other regions. The research results are now feeding the global standardisation process and being used to prepare the first large scale trials and demonstrators in Europe, in cooperation with several key sectors. The 5G Action Plan will leverage these initial research successes.

Regulatory framework

The new European Electronic Communications Code and the 5G action plan are closely related: they are both aimed at fostering the competitiveness of our industry in the Digital Single Market. They will both support the deployment and take-up of 5G networks, notably as regards the timely assignment and availability of radio spectrum, more favourable conditions for small cell deployment or sectorial issues preventing the deployment of particular services, investment incentives and favourable framework conditions, while the recently adopted rules on Open Internet provide legal certainty as regards the deployment of 5G applications.

Application of 5G

5G will enable:

  • industrial transformation through wireless broadband services provided at Gigabit speeds. 5G should offer data connections well above 10 Gigabits per second, latency below 5 milliseconds and the capability to exploit any available wireless resources (from Wi-Fi to 4G) and to handle millions of connected devices simultaneously),
  • the support of new types of applications connecting devices and objects (the Internet of Things) and versatility, by way of software virtualisation allowing innovative business models across multiple sectors (e.g. transport, health, manufacturing, logistics, energy, media and entertainment).

It opens up prospects for new pervasive mobile virtual services, important for the economy and society ranging from virtual reality for remote collaboration to on-line health monitoring or connected cars, and possibly drone delivery or automated driving.

Team responsible
Published: 
Wednesday, 14 September, 2016
Last update: 
Tuesday, 9 May, 2017