Can Europe lead in 5G?

5G is expected to represent a major leap forward from current telecommunications technologies, including revolutionary changes in radio interfaces and spectrum use. Although still to be defined precisely, 5G networks will be faster, always accessible, more reliable and more efficient in handling a large number of devices for the Internet of Things. To assess the promise of 5G in more depth, CEPS organised a conference on October 26th, attended by key stakeholders, including network operators, equipment manufacturers, industry sectors, independent analysts and the European institutions. Issues regarding spectrum and standards were discussed in the first session, chaired by Colin Blackman (CEPS), with presentations by Jean-Pierre Bienaimé (5G Infrastructure Association), Luigi Ardito (Qualcomm Europe), Ulrich Rehfuess (Nokia Networks), and Wladimir Bocquet (Eutelsat). The second session, chaired by Gerard Pogorel (Telecom ParisTech), considered conceptual matters and the 5G ecosystem. Jan Krancke (Deutsche Telekom) spoke about the 5G strategy from the perspective of a mobile network operator, while Erik Bohlin (Chalmers University) explained the implications of the new Connectivity Package for the European Commission’s Internet of Things Strategy. Simon Forge (SCF Associates Ltd) offered a skeptical view of the EU’s approach to 5G, arguing that, in the short term, 5G is a complement to other mobile and Wi-Fi for small cells in urban settings. Ultimately, however, 5G is the basis for the future communications infrastructure and so deserves long-term R&D investment. Finally, Bernard Barani (European Commission) gave an overview of the Commission’s actions in support of 5G.