LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2014: A joint 5G research and innovation programme created by the European Commission and the private sector has upped its investment budget to a combined €4.2 billion as the European Union seeks to seize back its position as the global mobile technology leader.
The 5G Infrastructure PPP (5G PPP) was launched last December as part of a €6.2 billion EU research programme called “Horizon 2020,” with €700 million committed by the Commission to investment in 5G technology.
At the time, the private sector pledged to match this investment, but Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner responsible for the digital agenda, said the private sector has now agreed to match the EU investment by up to five times, “with over €3 billion total for R&I. That’s a win-win for all of us.”
Kroes was speaking at a media briefing together with representatives from Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), Ericsson, Orange and Alcatel-Lucent during Mobile World Congress.
Indeed, the contribution from the private sector is expected to reach at least €3.5 billion by 2020, taking the total pot to €4.2 billion.
Kroes has previously said that the EU should focus on regaining the leadership in mobile innovation after falling behind the U.S. and Asia in LTE.
In her view, a healthy telecoms market is critical to underpin the health of the entire region, and to help resolve the issue of youth unemployment. Nonetheless, it’s clear that while 5G investment is now in progress, no one really knows what it is yet.
“I have no idea what 5G is,” said NSN’s head of technology and innovation Hossein Moiin. “It will be defined in the future. What we do know is what direction it will take.”
The general consensus among companies on the panel with Kroes was that whatever 5G will be, it will be user-centric, more dynamic and energy efficient, and will use all types of frequency bands. In essence it will pervade all areas of life as it embraces new services from the Internet of Things, M2M through to business-critical applications.
Whatever 5G is, “it should not be 4G-plus one,” said Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissiere, head of innovation, marketing and technologies division at Orange.