European Roundtable Report Shows Europe Lagging ROW in 5G Deployment

The European Round Table for Industry (ERT) and Global Counsel have undertaken a review of available data to evaluate progress in rolling out 5G, focusing on a comparison of nationwide roll-out of 5G in Europe and around the world. It reveals that Europe as a whole – and the largest individual nations – are behind global competitors in deploying 5G networks at this point of time. This does not, however, prevent the EU from redressing the situation when moving to standalone 5G in the near future.

The paper summarises that data, and the evidence of the underlying causes, with a focus on key metrics that can inform future choices by national and European policymakers. It is not too late to close the gap with the United States, South Korea and China, especially when moving to standalone 5G, but it is urgent to take action to address that gap. This paper should therefore be read in conjunction with ERT’s position paper on a Regulatory Framework for 5G, which recommends particular policies to reduce the costs of investing in 5G to unlock private financing for this critical infrastructure.

5G will be integral to the future of Europe’s digital infrastructure and resilience. During the first half of this year, we have witnessed an unprecedented, accelerated transition to mass home-working, living and leisure during the COVID-19 crisis, which have shown the importance and critical aspects of the network infrastructures. Some of these shifts in behaviour and working are likely to endure or re-emerge in the years to come. Greater bandwidth demands from video-streaming, videoconferencing and online gaming, combined with the shifting geography of mobile usage and longer peak hours, highlight the need for deeper investment in telecom infrastructure and a regulatory framework that encourages and facilitates this.
5G technology will play a critical role in meeting increasing network demand. Its key features include low latency, higher data rates, increased reliability and security, and lower power consumption. Efficient roll-out of 5G will therefore allow telecoms operators and other service providers to better manage traffic on their networks and provide a higher quality service for European consumers and higher speed online.

However, 5G is not just about improving the status quo. It will interconnect a huge array of technologies as well as enabling completely new services and transforming how they are delivered. For consumers, we will see the potential of virtual and augmented reality services and gaming, and the roll-out of advanced smart home devices and services. Looking beyond the crisis and the consumer-related aspects, the quality of connectivity will mean even more for industry, as enterprises will depend on connectivity for their business survival. There are
moreover a myriad of business opportunities that further improve consumer choice and industrial competitiveness.
The European Commission considers 5G a “key asset for Europe to compete in the global market”.

There is an opportunity now to address Europe’s inadequate view on the industrial dimension and how telecoms networks will evolve to cater for new enterprise-oriented use cases like smart
manufacturing, cities, transport, vehicles, utilities, connected healthcare, etc.

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