The European Union (EU) signed what it described as a "milestone agreement" with China that lays the foundation for a future collaboration between the two regions on the development of 5G technologies and services.
Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, and Miao Wei, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology, signed the agreement in Beijing.
The respective industrial associations, the EU's 5G PPP Association and China's IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Association, are also now poised to sign an industrial agreement as soon as the EU-China joint agreement on 5G is in place.
Oettinger said the EU "has now teamed up with the most important Asian partners in a global race to make 5G a reality by 2020. It's a crucial step in making 5G a success."
The European Commission has already signed similar agreements with South Korea and Japan in recent months.
Key targets of the collaboration with China include reaching an agreement on the concepts and timeline for 5G by the end of 2015; implementing joint research projects and promoting the global standardisation of 5G; identifying spectrum requirements; and exploring possible areas for cooperative research on services and applications for 5G, especially in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT).
As well as signing agreements with other regions, the European Commission has also pledged to invest €700 million ($783 million) through the Horizon 2020 Programme to support research and innovation in 5G. The Digital Single Market Strategy announced in May has also committed to improving spectrum coordination in the EU, particularly in view of future 5G needs.
The Commission noted that the 5G standardisation race will start in 2016, together with discussions on spectrum requirements for 5G that should culminate during the World Radio Conference in 2019. As things stand, 5G is expected to be commercially available from 2020.
This latest agreement signed by the European Commission adds to what is now considerable momentum behind 5G research and development. Earlier in September, for example, the University of Surrey officially opened the much-anticipated 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) as part of efforts to ensure that the UK and Europe maintain a leading role in the development of 5G technology.
- see this release from the European Commission
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