The European Commission (EC) and South Korea’s government have struck a deal to pool resources on 5G and ICT R&D.
Neelie Kroes, EC’s digital chief, and Mun-Kee Choi, South Korea’s Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), signed the far-reaching ‘strategic cooperation’ in Seoul.
Europe and South Korea will work together on defining what 5G actually means, as well as push for harmonised radio spectrum and global 5G standards to ensure interoperability.
Achieving global consensus on the broad definition of 5G, including key functionalities, is slated for the end of 2015. Coming up with a target timetable for 5G is another goal set for the end of next year.
Private sector involvement comes in the shape of a memorandum of understanding to be signed by the EU’s 5G Infrastructure Association and South Korea’s 5G Forum.
Members of the 5G Infrastructure Association include Alcatel-Lucent, Atos, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor and Telefonica.
Kroes hailed the collaboration with South Korea as a “landmark agreement”.
“5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognise this,” she said. “This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardisation.”
Both sides have also agreed to “deepen discussions” about so-called “Net Futures”.
Europe and South Korea pledged to strengthen the agreement of the November 2013 summit meeting, where both sides agreed on promoting R&D in ICT. As part of that work, a Korea-EU ICT working group, preparing for ICT R&D cooperation, is to be established.
The working group will hold “relevant policy discussions” in the areas of 5G, cloud and internet of things (IoT). The plan is to launch jointly-funded R&D programmes in 2016-2017.
The 5G agreement with South Korea is part of efforts in Europe to reassert the region’s global leadership in mobile technology, a position it lost to North America and parts of Asia with their faster rollouts of 4G.
A 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 slated by the commission for 5G.
At February’s MWC 2014, the private sector agreed to match EU investment by up to five times. The private sector is expected to contribute at least €3.5 billion by 2020, taking the total 5G pot to €4.2 billion.