Developing 5G telecommunications systems and services for faster, more efficient, safer and more stable online interactivity is expected to create millions of jobs in the EU and to have a horizontal impact on the automotive industry, medical care, transport with applications to everyday activities (e.g. smart cities, new manufacturing systems, smart power systems) and a huge number of other economic sectors.
This issue lies at the heart of the EU's objective to develop innovation, create new jobs and restart the economy. However, some Member States are unable to move as fast as others, either because of lack of investment, or for reasons of national military interest or because of their geographical location and the need for coordination with neighbouring third countries.
In view of the above, will the Commission say:
1. What is the precise timetable for the development of 5G technology, from today's perspective?
2. How does it plan to prevent those countries that need more time for reasons of national defence being left behind technologically?
3. Will it show flexibility over the development of 5G in individual regions of those countries that are forced to lag behind?
Answer given by Mr Oettinger on behalf of the Commission
Europe cannot miss the opportunity provided by 5G, a key for the digitisation of the EU industries and catalyst for our competitiveness.
A common timetable to deploy 5G networks in the Digital Single Market as from 2020 would be a clear advantage over the patchy 4G deployment in the EU. This is also linked to the developments with 5G technology and spectrum. The Commission expects to see technology trials in various countries before 2018. Once the first 5G release by 3GPP is being finalised and the situation with additional 5G spectrum bands is clearer, the work is expected to begin on trial specifications needed for pan-European trials to pave the way towards downstream commercial introduction.
The Commission encourages Member States to prepare national 5G deployment plans within the next year. This will be an essential instrument to achieve the necessary EU-wide coordination, leaving some space for any specific national situations.
The Commission is aware of the industry 5G Manifesto, proposing that the Member States launch commercial 5G services in 2020 in at least one major city, subject to the availability of 5G solutions. This approach could also allow for a good degree of flexibility for the EU Member States. Early planning will be necessary, anticipating inter alia the requirements for fibre deployment and investments in view of creating synergies between national 5G deployment plans. These national plans should be ambitious, but there can naturally be different speeds with the deployment.
A ‘5G Action Plan’ is currently under elaboration by the Commission services.