EC's Oettinger gives 5G pep talk to operator, vendor chiefs

Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, called the leaders of 10 major European telecoms operators and infrastructure vendors to a meeting in a bid to accelerate the development and rollout of 5G technology.

Günther Oettinger, European commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society

The commissioner invited the CEOs of companies including BT, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia and Vodafone to a meeting in Brussels yesterday (Tuesday) to address concerns that Europe is slipping behind countries in Asia Pacific in the race to develop 5G, the Financial Times reported.

In a letter inviting the CEOs to the meeting, Oettinger said the EC wanted to discuss issues including the timeline for 5G deployment, creating a domestic European industry around the technology, and the levels of infrastructure investment needed to make 5G a commercial reality.

Sources told the FT that the EC is concerned that Europe will lag countries including China, Japan and South Korea in the development and deployment of 5G. The Commission is also keen to ensure that relevant patents are kept 'in-house', the newspaper added.

Oettinger may also be seeking agreement from the operator and infrastructure chiefs on updated telecoms regulations that the EC is preparing to introduce during 2016, the FT noted. The commissioner is concerned that current regulations are outdated because they tackle only mobile and fixed communications, rather than the wealth of digital services available today, the newspaper explained.

Europe has become a major focus for 5G research and development, with initiatives including the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) already established to help guide the definition and deployment of the next-generation technology.

Oettinger took steps to ensure European research and development is inline with other global markets in September when he signed a deal that paved the way for collaboration between the EU's 5GPPP Association and China's IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Association.

The deal with China built on similar, separate, research agreements between the EC and South Korea and Japan. The EC has also pledged to invest €700 million ($757 million) in 5G research as part of its Horizon 2020 Programme.

For more:
- see this Financial Times report (subscription required)

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Günther Oettinger - Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society