EU and China sign major 5G deal, aiming for 2020 rollout

29 Sep 2015

Both the European Commission and China have signed a deal that aims to bring 5G mobile internet to both regions by 2020, with it potentially capable of transmitting 20Gbps.

While yet to even be mentioned as something feasible within the next year or two in many countries, Japan and South Korea have already begun development of their own rollout of 5G networks to their populations.

But now, the European Commission has confirmed the signing of what it is describing as a ‘milestone’ agreement that will ramp up both Europe’s and China’s development of the network.

As part of the agreement, both parties have agreed to set a list of targets that they are to achieve in the coming months and years.

These include reaching a global understanding, by the end of 2015, on the concept, basic functionalities, key technologies and time plan for 5G; joint 5G developmental research, and promoting its standard globalisation and its applications for the internet of things (IoT).

‘5G will be the backbone of our digital economies’

The latter, in particular, appears to be considered one of the key reasons for its rollout, not for just improving a person’s ability to download faster but to facilitate the inevitable IoT infrastructure requirements.

“By 2020 there will be more than 30 times as much mobile internet traffic as there was in 2010,” the announcement said. “5G won’t just be faster, it will also be the backbone of our digital future and the foundation of a trillion euro EU market in IoT, i.e. new functionalities and applications ranging from connected cars to smart homes.”

For Europe, further advantages come from the deal as EU telecoms and the ICT industry will gain access to one of the world’s biggest markets to develop the technology as well as conduct research.

Speaking of the accord, Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, said: “5G will be the backbone of our digital economies and societies worldwide.

“This is why we strongly support and seek a global consensus and cooperation on 5G. With today’s signature with China, the EU has now teamed up with the most important Asian partners in a global race to make 5G a reality by 2020. It’s a crucial step in making 5G a success.”

Mobile network tower image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic