Mobile World Congress 2015: EU unveils its vision for 5G


Mon, 2 Mar 2015




The European Commission and Europe's tech industry presented today their vision for 5G. A global vision and standards for 5G will be discussed and decided together with international partners in late 2015-2016. With this early input, the EU stands a good chance that key elements of its vision will form part of global standards.

The EU Commissioner together with companies including Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Thales Alenia Space and other partners in the 5G Public-Private Partnership have presented today Europe's vision of the 5G technologies and infrastructure which, by 2020, will cope with the massive growth in the use of communication and wireless technologies by humans and machines.

It is the result of 18 months of discussion within the 5G PPP, an initiative bringing together the European Commission and industry, to usher in a new era in mobile network development.  The EU vision will feed into a global debate which aims to agree by the end of 2015 on the scope of 5G, its main technological constituents, and the timetable for putting it in place.  5G technologies and standards will respond to the 30-fold increase in internet and data traffic by 2020. (see What 5G can do for you).

Europe's 5G vision in more detail:

  • Key drivers: 5G should not only be an evolution of mobile broadband networks. It should allow completely new network and service capabilities. For example, it might keep users continuously connected in challenging situations like train journeys, very dense or sparsely populated areas. This is possible thanks to larger capacities. And it would really boost the Internet of Things, connecting a massive number of sensors.
  • Design principles. 5G infrastructure should be flexible and rapidly adapt to a broad range of requirements. It should be designed to be a sustainable and scalable technology.
  • Key technological components: 5G networks should encompass optical, cellular and satellite solutions. It will heavily rely on emerging technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) and Fog Computing (FC).
  • Spectrum considerations: 5G access networks will require hundreds of MHz up to several GHz to be provided at a very high overall system capacity. Higher carrier frequencies above 6 GHz need to be considered. Maintaining a stable and predictable regulatory and spectrum management environment is critical for long term investments.
  • Timeline: Many European operators predict 5G commercial availability in 2020-2025.

More details and executive summary


The 5G vision has been written by members of the 5G Infrastructure Association, the industry part of the 5G PPP. The 5G PPP was launched in December 2013  and is an agreement between the European Commission and industry. The Commission itself plays a role, mainly by supporting the research efforts, and the Private sector plays the role of providing leadership to define the industrial strategy. The €700 million of EU funding will be complemented by a minimum of €3.5 billion by the EU industry.

A global vision on 5G will pave the way for discussions on standards in 2016, under the leadership of the 3GPP standardisation body. It will also help national governments to develop spectrum policy and regulation at World Radio Conferences (WRC) in 2015 and 2019.

EU's 5G investments pay off

Ground-breaking technological progress from EU-funded flagship projects such as METIS, 5GNOW, iJOIN, MIWEBA, CREW, EVARILOS also being showcased at Barcelona (EU 5G Research Stand 0B17, located in HALL 8). 5GNOW has already achieved important results on new radio access technology and METIS has delivered the main usage scenarios, associated technologies and architectures. European industry has also demonstrated the possibility to use higher frequency bands to reach user data rates above 1,2 Gb/s.

These are the fruits of the EU's €50 million investment that kick-started 5G research in Europe and shared effort to take long-term risks with industry and academia. A new wave of 5G research projects worth €125 million of EU investment will be announced this month and launched next July, part of the total €700 million committed by the Commission until 2020.

The Commission signed an agreement to cooperate with South Korea in 5G in June 2014 (IP/14/680) and is working towards similar agreements with other countries.

The European Commission is already laying down the legislative and technical foundations for the introduction of 5G. Through the proposal for the Telecoms Single Market, currently being discussed by the European Council, and the forthcoming Digital Single Market package, the Commission aims to develop a common approach to managing radio-spectrum use across Europe.

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