The EU Commission should take priority measures to ensure early 5G deployment in Europe 欧委会应采取重点措施确保欧洲5G初步部署顺利展开
Leading Chinese undertakings are betting on the future 5G mobile communications standard as a game changer in the ICT industry. If their expectations come true, they will likely become the dominant companies in the sector, taking over the prominent role played today by the US based GAFAs.
The European Commission’s public consultation on its 5G Action Plan, which closed in July, provided a unique opportunity for Chinese companies to influence the EU policy making in this area.
Aimed at intensifying joint research and business cooperation and mutual investments in Internet, Telecom and Hi-tech between China and Europe, ChinaEU participated in the consultation and highlighted the issues that the EU should prioritize to deploy 5G successfully.
5G will be a key infrastructure for Europe and a core asset to support competitiveness and digitization of European industry. For this reason, 5G introduction in Europe needs to be time coordinated across all Member States, to maximize early availability at pan-European scale and holistic deployment approach should be targeted from the start (both lower frequency bands which are below 6 GHz and higher frequency bands which are above 6GHz).
As other regions of the world have announced pre-commercial pilots and showcasing for 5G as early as 2017-2018, the European 5G leadership should also organize pan-European showcasing events as early as 2017 in view of early 5G deployment in Europe by 2020. An early but realistic common deadline will mobilize public and private efforts with a clear focus, to the benefit of the whole of the industry and end-users.
As a first step, Europe and China should work together and co-organize trials and showcases. One concrete example could be the launch of “full 5G Cities projects” starting from 2018. It would be essential to involve also the European and Chinese vertical industry, i.e. industries like the automotive industries, that will be heavy users of 5G, as well as the public sector.
Current expectations are that while eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband) will be the largest 5G market in 2020, the connections of mMTC (massive machine type communication) will surpass that of eMBB by 2025. For this reason, 5G introduction in Europe should target the eMBB use from the beginning. In parallel, the EU Commission should endeavor convincing other regions to set a similar priority while ensuring early availability of eMBB services in Europe to create global markets. Meanwhile, the EU Commission should also target as priority mMTC and URLL (ultra reliable low latency) classes of use from the beginning, to foster the emergence of ecosystems with vertical industries.
However, the first step should be the identification of adequate spectrum for 5G and setting out a timeline for making this spectrum available throughout the EU. Countries such as US, Japan, South Korea are moving fast to identify 5G spectrum already in 2016. It is therefore of key importance for Europe that the Commission would already announce still in 2016 or in any case before end 2017, the spectrum that will be earmarked for 5G applications.
Globally harmonized spectrum is a necessity to satisfy requirements of worldwide interoperability and to minimize equipment costs. In case network/user equipment has to operate across several region-specific frequency bands, this should also be economically feasible even on low cost IoT-type of devices. 700 MHz and 3.4 – 3.8 GHz should be considered as the 5G priority bands for EU harmonization.
一个全球统一的频谱是满足世界范围内实现互操作性要求的必要条件，也是设备成本最小化的前提。如果网络组织或是用户设备需要跨越多个区域特定频带进行操作，该频谱还需要从经济层面上确保其在低成本的物联网类设备上的可行性。可以考虑700兆赫及3.4 – 3.8千兆赫作为欧盟统一的5G优先频带。
Though eMBB is considered as the main priority, the initial standards should not be limited to eMBB usages, but also include vertical sector requirements from the onset (mMTC and URLL). The European Commission should set out a strategy to ensure that appropriate standards can also emerge timely in areas concerning the interface between communications functions and third party service providers, for instance vertical industries.
As regards mMTC and URLL, ChinaEU thinks that the following vertical industries are the most likely to drive investments in the first generation of 5G services:
- Automotive/Connected vehicles/Traffic management
- Transport for logistics (other than automotive, i.e. trains, planes, maritime)
- Energy network management
- Public safety & disaster recovery
A strong public intervention is important because, as is the case with any major innovation, 5G is confronted with a chicken-and-egg problem: industrial users will not start investing in 5G applications before 5G networks are effectively deployed on a large scale and telecom operators will not want to invest in deploying massively 5G in the absence of a proven market demand.
Thus, ChinaEU stressed to the Commission that, in an initial stage, public funding is unavoidable to foster pervasive deployment of 5G networks throughout the EU. Means for such public funding could notably come from the European Fund for Strategic Investment, the European Investment Bank, national or regional funds.
In parallel, specific regulatory measures reducing the cost of deployment of access facilities – such as those aimed at by the Cost Reduction Directive of 2014, are indispensable:
- Reducing cost and deadlines for obtaining building permits and rights of way (in line with other major infrastructure projects, such as electricity pylons, and their low rents/legal protection)
- Easing planning restrictions on small cells
- Harmonizing EMF radiation caps at EU level so as to avoid some countries and regions to have significantly more severe rules than the harmonized radiation cap
- Ending special taxes and administrative charges on sites and masts used for base stations and transmitters
The EU Commission has a major role in educating relevant authorities about the benefits of inward investment in wireless versus the petty financial gains from site and mast taxes.
ICT is a global industry and 5G is a promising area for international cooperation. For this reason, ChinaEU considers that cooperation from the outset between China and Europe on 5G matters should be the second leg of the EUs 5G strategy, completing the above listed intra EU action lines.
Therefore, ChinaEU suggested the following three concrete action lines to the Commission during the public consultation:
- Exploring synergies between the Chinese and EU 5G policies
China attaches great importance to 5G in its national five-year plan and has set the goal of 5G commercialization by 2020, while the EU is looking forward to contemplate early 5G deployment by the same deadline. Since the two sides want to move at the same pace, it is more efficient and reciprocal to work together and help each other where there is overlapping ambition.
- Carry out joint research and trails on 5G
In order to inject innovation to the 5G deployment process in Europe, the EU should look for partners to increase critical mass and foster the exchange of expertise and new ideas with partners that have common agendas. China would seem the best candidate for such partnership.
China is the largest market for Internet in the world and it will definitely take a leading role in global 5G development in the next decades. The first to ally with China will not only take a bigger piece of cake in the market share, but also grasp the chance to stand at the top and develop its own 5G and capability at a faster speed than the EU could do on its own or with other, less committed, partners.
The leading Chinese telecom vendors are taking pioneering actions to lead the trend. For example, ZTE is currently working on a pre-5G technology and has already started its pre-5G trials in China.
Therefore, Europe should maintain privileged relations with Chinese partners and promote joint actions both in the field of research and in the trials. Further ‘concrete joint initiatives’ should be put in place step by step, such as the first ‘Full 5G Cities’, that could be initially located in Europe and in China.
- Setting up a joint China-EU digital fund
The fund would support and invest in small and medium-sized EU and Chinese enterprises operating in 5G who are passionate about expanding their business in each other’s market.