EC teams with South Korea to harmonise 5G development

The European Commission (EC) agreed to a 'landmark' 5G cooperation deal with South Korea early Monday, in a bid to define global standards for the next-generation technology and ensure radio frequency harmonisation.

Neelie Kroes - EC vice president

An ICT cooperation agreement signed by Neelie Kroes, EC vice president responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, and Mun-Kee Choi, South Korea's Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, aims to define what 5G technology should be by end-2015, and provide joint funding for research and development of the technology over the following two years.

Kroes said the agreement is the "first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardisation."

The European Union's 5G Infrastructure Association--a body that counts companies including Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and major European operators among its members--is due to sign a joint development pact with South Korea's 5G Forum as part of the broader agreement.

Potential applications for 5G technology include smart energy grids, connected homes, healthcare, smart cars, and entertainment, the EC predicted.

Kroes added that the agreement "signals the our [sic] commitment to being global digital leaders," which could be seen as an admission that Europe has lagged other markets when rolling out previous generations of mobile technology.

The European Union committed to investing €700 million ($947 million) into a Public Private Partnership on 5G (5GPPP) initiative--which launched in December 2013--by 2020, and predicts private industry will invest five times more than this amount into the scheme.

In South Korea, the government predicted combined public-private 5G investment will hit 1.6 trillion won (€1.1 billion/$1.5 billion) over the next seven years, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Analysys Mason principal analyst Janette Stewart in April warned that a harmonised approach to 5G development is needed to ensure the full potential of the technology is met.

In May, Dr Mehrdad Shariat research fellow at the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre, said 5G networks must give users the impression that capacity is infinite, and that increasing network density appears the best route to achieve that goal.

Earlier in June, GSMA director general, Anne Bouverot, said the industry must "be careful not to rush into 5G" because of the potential financial burden on the technology industry, which she said is one reason Europe has lagged markets including the U.S. and Asia Pacific in terms of 4G deployments.

For more:
- see the EU's 5G announcement
- see this Wall Street Journal report

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