Europe’s telcos call for a 5G super-fund to spur rollout

8 Jul 2016

Europe's telcos are planning to deploy 5G at scale by 2018, but to achieve this a major superfund to fuel innovation will be needed

Europe’s biggest telecoms giants have committed to conducting large-scale 5G trials by 2017 and plan to launch 5G in 28 cities across the EU by 2020. However, this, they say, will require the creation of a super-fund to cover the €1bn cost of such trials, as well as a €1bn 5G venture fund to fuel the 5G start-up ecosystem.

The 5G Manifesto has been signed by the CEOs of BT, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Royal KPN, Nokia, Ericsson, Vodafone, Telefonica and many others.

The telcos have committed to a challenging calendar to introduce 5G at a large-scale by 2017 and in at least one city in each of the 28 member states by 2020.

‘As mobile technology progresses towards 5G, Europe has a critical opportunity to reclaim a leading digital role and extend fast mobile connectivity to all of its citizens’

They say they are reacting to Europe’s Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s call for Europe to lead the world in 5G deployment.

Creation of a €1bn 5G venture fund

However, to achieve their goals, the telcos want the establishment of a fund that could provide grants of between €500m and €1bn for large-scale trials to incentivise vertical industries.

They also want a venture fund of over €1bn to act as a catalyst for digital innovation that will be underpinned by 5G.

“Such an instrument, above the €1bn mark, would allow the EU to take equity stakes in European innovative start-ups aiming at developing 5G technologies and applications across verticals,” the telcos said.

The telcos want simpler and fewer rules on access to key infrastructure, more light-touch regulation and changes to net neutrality rules to allow for innovative specialised services required by industrial IoT applications.

“5G is expected to require significant investments over time, including a new radio access layer, high-bandwidth backhaul links, core network upgrades and, for certain scenarios, increased densification of cell sites,” the telcos said in their 5G Manifesto.

“Such investments will take place if the right regulatory environment is created, in particular in the context of the forthcoming review of the European Electronic Communications Framework.”

The manifesto calls for timely identification and granting of spectrum for 5G, including 700 MHz, 3.4-3.8GHz and higher frequency bands (for 24 GHz and beyond) by 2020 at the latest.

5G action plan


European Commissioner in charge of the Digital Agenda, Gunther Oettinger wants Europe to lead the world in 5G innovation

Oettinger welcomed the manifesto and said that when the European Commission is drawing up its 5G action plan it will consider the industry recommendations.

He said that the manifesto is a valuable input for the 5G action plan that will be presented in September.

The 5G Manifesto was welcomed by the influential GSM Association (GSMA), which it said is designed to foster collaboration between the telecoms industry and key vertical sectors.

GSMA said that European 5G leadership, spurred by partnership between government and industry, can harness the full power of digital to deliver growth and jobs, achieve a more inclusive society with better public services, and support a thriving and competitive European Digital Single Market.

“As mobile technology progresses towards 5G, Europe has a critical opportunity to reclaim a leading digital role and extend fast mobile connectivity to all of its citizens,” said John Giusti, chief regulatory officer of GSMA.

“Because 5G is still a nascent technology, the steps we take today to foster an enabling environment will be crucial in ensuring the future success of this technology and in re-establishing Europe’s position as a leader in innovation.”

5G image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years