The European Commission (EC) hopes to sign deals with the US, China and Japan to coordinate the development of 5G standards and ensure that Europe is not left behind in the mobile data race.
The European Union was widely seen as falling behind in telecoms standards during the push to 4G, and operators in Europe are only now offering 4G services as standard with reasonable coverage.
The EC is keen to avoid a similar fate with 5G services, especially as 5G networks will offer a dramatic improvement in speed and latency. V3 reported exclusively last week on speed tests of 1Tbps at the University of Surrey, underlining the huge potential for 5G.
Guenther Oettinger, European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said that the EC will work with China and Japan to develop 5G standards, having struck a similar deal last year with South Korea
“It is our intention to sign similar agreements with other key regions of the world, notably Japan, China and the US,” he said during a speech at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.
“We target a single global 5G standard and global spectrum harmonisation. This will maximise global interoperability and economies of scale.” The spectrum bands that will be used for 5G was cited as one area where agreement is a must at a European and global level.
"In the past, the European position may have been fragmented, but we cannot afford it in the 5G race. We must build together a European approach in the international spectrum debates with other global actors," Oettinger said.
He added that this is vital to ensure that operators around the world can move forward with 5G services together, which should enable the development of many new capabilities and services for the market.
“With 5G, telecom operators should be able to provide specialised network services to a series of new industry partners, from the automotive, to the rail, health and energy sectors,” he said.
Oettinger cited the idea of connected cars that can be controlled via 5G networks with latency of under one 1ms to avoid collisions as an example of the ways in which 5G could be used in the future.
Oettinger said there is hope that the first 5G standardisation will begin in 2016 and take research results into account so that industry players have plenty of time to factor in standards to future products and services.
The expectation is that 5G services will start to hit the market in 2020 with real-world speeds of around 50Gbps.