European operators, vendors publish ‘5G Manifesto’

By Tony Chan

A group of European operators and vendors have published a 7-page ‘5G Manifesto’ outlining their wish list for the technology, as well as an action plan for the rapid development and deployment of fifth generation wireless services in the region. In return, the group is promising the launch of 5G in at least one city in each of the 28 European Union Member States by 2020.  The document has the endorsement of 13 European mobile operators and two satellite operators, together with Ericsson and Nokia. It details a strategy to foster cooperation with vertical industries as well as expectations of a European plan for 5G spectrum, and warns against “restrictive net neutrality rules.”

Specifically, the document outlines what the mobile industry wants to see from the European Commission and the governments of its member states: namely regulatory policies, including those governing spectrum, that are “future-oriented, pro-investment and pro-innovation.”  One of the main areas of focus for the Manifesto is driving collaboration between the mobile industry and vertical sectors. The operators are calling for the EC to formalise a process for technical and economic cooperation for cross-industry development initiatives, and to explore potential ways to harmonise the regulatory environment for different verticals sectors across the region to facilitate pan-European 5G services.

Ultimately, the Manifesto wants pan-European standards for vertical industry solutions on 5G that can gain traction globally.  The document also offers a timetable for the development of such standards, starting with technical and standalone trials in the lead up to 2018, followed by the definition and trial of formal specifications for such solutions, which include use cases for connected vehicles, eHealth services, broadband for transportation, public safety, smart grids, smart cities and media and entertainment.

To finance these trials, the Manifesto wants the EC to set up a new 5G Venture Fund – on top of existing 5G initiatives like the 5GPPP – in order to fund new technologies and solutions. In order to retain ownership of such technologies within Europe, the Manifesto said the Fund should look at investments in the €1 billion range and take equity stakes in new start ups development 5G technologies and applications for vertical industries.

Spectrum and regulatory reform

The Manifesto also addresses 5G spectrum requirements and calls for a pan-European spectrum policy by 2020 that will unify the licensing parameters for the 700MHz and 3.4GHz-3.8GHz bands, as well as centimetre-wave and millimetre-wave frequencies, across the whole of Europe.  To further meet the operators’ 5G schedules, the Manifesto calls for new, evolved spectrum policies, as well as the availability of new bands as early as 2019.

Meanwhile, the Manifesto highlights net neutrality as a potential obstacle for 5G. “The telecom industry warns that the current Net Neutrality guidelines create significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment. Investments are therefore likely to be delayed unless regulators take a positive stance on innovation and stick to it,” it says, pointing out the inherent requirement for 5G networks to support differentiated services. “5G introduces the concept of network slicing to accommodate a wide-variety of industry verticals’ business models on a common platform, at scale and with services guarantees.”

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