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Mobile communications strategy and 5G network expansion

Mobilising Europe: the EU’s 5G Action Plan

The new 5G generation of mobile communications is a key factor in maintaining Europe’s competitive edge. To enable the member states to introduce this technology in a coordinated fashion, the Action Plan consolidates all the measures required for the development process. 

The mobile internet is not the only thing that will be boosted by the new mobile telecommunications standard. It is set to drive the economy forward too. From 2025 mobile network operators are expected to realise an annual turnover of around 200 billion euros worldwide thanks to 5G. Experts are also expecting positive effects on employment, creating around 2 million new jobs within the EU. It all depends on the successful implementation of the EU’s so-called 5G Action Plan. 

The “5G for Europe” Action Plan

On 14 September 2016 the European Commission published its “5G for Europe” Action Plan, a European timetable for a commercial market launch of 5G technology by the end of 2020. By 2025 the new standard is to be comprehensively available in towns and cities and all the way along important transport routes.  

Admittedly, the introduction of 5G is first and foremost a national responsibility for the Member States. However, the Action Plan defines the time frame and legal framework for fast and coordinated development in Europe. To avoid inefficiencies and create an investment-friendly environment, the Action Plan stresses the importance of having an internationally harmonised procedure as regards research, planning and coordination. The plan will also boost competitiveness and position the EU as a trailblazer in 5G. 

Established areas of activity for the Action Plan include providing and harmonising frequencies for 5G. They also cover finding the optimum combination of fixed network and wireless technology to ensure the widespread availability of 5G and using investment to support 5G innovations that promote growth. Favourable political framework conditions are also being created to allow society and the economy to benefit from a competitive EU. 

Strengthening the Digital Single Market

The “5G for Europe” Action Plan is tightly bound up with the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy and the European Electronic Communications Code. The overriding objective of this and other programmes is to make the Digital Single Market attractive and competitive, and with it Europe as a centre of technology. This concerted orientation ensures the compatibility of the various individual programmes and initiatives. 

Investments provide propulsion

Within the framework of its 5G Public Private Partnership (5G PPP), the EU supports 5G research projects with more than 400 million euros. 5G PPP was started in 2013 to research and promote 5G technologies in Europe and has since then taken a number of key steps to plot the course ahead. With the help of EU subsidies, additional private investments totalling over a billion euros have been made available – further strengthening the EU’s leading role in the promotion of 5G services. 

What about cybersecurity?

Since sensitive services will be especially reliant on 5G networks, it is extremely important strategically for the EU to be able to guarantee network security. On the recommendation of the European Commission of 26 March 2019, the Member States therefore conducted a risk assessment of 5G network security. In the wake of this, they agreed to raise the cybersecurity requirements. Based on a two-stage risk assessment – starting on a national level, then later coordinated across Europe – a comprehensive EU risk assessment report came out in late 2019. The report defines strategic and technical measures for reducing risks and safeguarding network security. The Member States are working with the Commission to assess the effects and determine whether further measures are needed. 

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