5G network: A new era for the EU

A new generation of network technologies, known as 5G, is entering the digital market of the EU in 2018, opening new prospects for the digital and business models. 5G is a challenging technological concept referring to the transition of the broadband Internet to incredibly high speeds, through which several devices and interfaces will be able to connect to each other.

Possible positive impacts of 5G connection

This innovative ecosystem can certainly involve several players from business and industry and could affect our daily lives.
In which way? Firstly, the high-speed connections from 1 to 10 Gbps will bring a revolution in information and communications technology, introducing virtualization and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in our online interactions and making them much more efficient. Although the market perspectives have not been defined in terms of consumer demand, there are possible scenarios for the 5G’s usage. For instance, E-health applications could be created, through which patients in their own home would be able to monitor their blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate. Through the transmission of these data, a health service would intervene in case of need.

The transition towards a 5G wireless connection will also affect the transport and especially the vehicles. New automated driverless cars are tested in several countries of Europe, under the support of the European Automotive Telecom Alliance, the newly established organization of the European Commission, involving six countries. The research is at a primary stage, while “test-drives” have started taking place all over Europe.

High-risk challenges?

Various concerns exist, concerning the privacy and to what extent the personal data of users will be protected. Also, the prevention of hacking actions or cyber-attacks remains among the top priorities of the policy-makers. “It is a really challenging issue, but the key is the trust”, said Charanzova, MEP and Vice-Chair of IMCO, in a Politico’s event last week.

Winners and losers

According to optimistic estimations, a mass number of new investments in the wireless technology will create 22 million jobs at a global level. Entrepreneurs, employees in the manufacturing and the industrial sector and IT specialists will have many opportunities in this innovative ecosystem. However, there are concerns that traditional jobs will disappear (e.g. car drivers). As for the GDP, it is expected to increase by 4%.

5G network in the EU

In September 2016, the Commission published a Communication Paper, proposing several targeted actions to the Member States, the industry and the stakeholders for the intensification of research activities, the strengthening of the partnerships and the improvement of the current providing network facilities.

In December 2016, the Council and the European Parliament agreed to make 700 MHz band available for wireless broadband by 2020. This development will certainly accelerate the development of the 5G wireless networks in the Member States which will approve these measures at the national level.

Nevertheless, the creation of a “digital-friendly” environment is not sufficient without the support of the private sector and the coordination between the EU countries. The current investments are limited at the EU level and for this reason, the European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip called the Member States for more actions, in February 2017. The Commission is currently promoting the research programmes related to the IoT, Open Data and 5G connections under the framework of Horizon 2020. Under the EFSI funds, until now the total investment on digital technologies have reached almost €1.9 billion in research and innovation projects focused on energy, transport and societal issues.


Photo: Software Pride/Flickr