Taking place virtually, the 2021 edition of The European 5G Conference was held on 23-25 February. Now in its 5th year, the European 5G Conference has an established reputation as Brussels’ leading meeting place for discussion on 5G policy.
With the European Commission currently consulting on a review of The 5G Action Plan, this year’s conference focussed on this and more. It looked at the role that 5G can play in digital recovery, and more broadly on the way forward to ensure that Europe’s 5G goals and objectives are fully achieved.
Director for Future Networks, DG Connect
Chairman, BIPT Council; & Chairman BEREC
Chair, Sub-Group on New Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP), RSPG
Head of Mobile Communication
Agency for Communication Networks & Services of the Republic of Slovenia
Head of Unit – Future Connectivity Systems
Head of Unit for Spectrum Policy
Director – 6G Flagship
University of Oulu
Head of Digital Infrastructure Division, European Investment Bank
Senior Director, Government Affairs
Head of Unit - Electronic Communications Policy
Global Connectivity Policy
Director for Regulatory Affairs
Director of Spectrum Insight and Analysis
Head of Tech Exploration
MEP & Rapporteur on Europe’s cyber security directive, NIS
Head of Unit for “Cybersecurity Technology and Capacity Building”
Director for Spectrum Planning and International Affairs
Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR)
Deputy Head of Unit – Future Connectivity Systems
Head of Sector, Spectrum for Wireless Broadband
All times listed are in local Brussels time (CET).
Adopted in 2016, the existing 5G Action Plan set a number of key targets for 5G deployment across member states and provided a roadmap for how to achieve these. 4 years on, the investment environment has changed massively with the COVID-19 pandemic and public funds launched to enable Europe’s recovery. Against this background, the Commission is consulting on a ‘5G Action Plan Review’, with the aim of setting out new goals towards full 5G deployment as part of the planned Digital Decade Strategy. This session will discuss the current state of play regarding rollout and deployment in Europe, and the key issues that this review of the 5G Action Plan will address. Moving forward, it will look to identify the areas on which future European 5G policy should focus, and at the path forward to ensure that Europe’s 5G goals and objectives are fully achieved.
Presentation: Announcement and overview of EIB study on Access to Finance to support Investments in 5G Service innovation and take-up
Shiva Dustdar, Head of Division, Innovation Finance Advisory, European Investment Bank
Panel Discussion: Investment in 5G Infrastructure and Applications – maximising the benefits of a ‘once in a lifetime’ funding opportunity
The new EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) provides an unprecedented level of public financing (€750 billion) to kick-start the relaunch of the economy and boost private investments in key sectors and technologies. In this context, investments in 5G have been made a priority and will constitute a large part of the €130 billion targeted to digital for the period 2021-2023. It will accelerate the infrastructure deployment in ‘challenge’ areas (e.g. rural areas, 5G communities, along roads and railways) and pave the way to ‘advanced 5G’ and 6G. At the same time, the EU aims at boosting the new use cases and new ecosystems that are key for digital transformation using not only R&D instruments but also venture capital funding. This session will look at how this can be best achieved using the full range of EU programmes and which are the areas that can benefit most from the funding that is available. It will look at the role that the RRF can play in stimulating broader public and private investment in 5G moving forward, and at the potential that this once in a lifetime opportunity offers to unleash the power of 5G.
Stage 1 – 5G MmWave deployment – State of play in Europe – Hosted by Qualcomm
Stage 2 – Developing Competitive Advantage via your Spectrum Strategy – A Playbook for Operators and Regulators – Hosted by LYA
Stage 3 – 5G and cities: Why collaboration and connectivity is key to smart transportation success – Hosted by Ericsson
All around the world, countries and regions are battling for digital supremacy and to be seen as leading the way in the development of 5G and other key technologies. Whilst Europe is arguably currently well positioned in the international technological race, the potential to address the broader value chain is clear. Europe is home of two of the 3 big equipment suppliers, is blessed with world-class researchers and science labs, a thriving and innovative start-up community, and arguably the most highly skilled and developed vertical markets in the world. As we enter the era of 5G, and already start to look further ahead to B5G and even 6G, this session will look at how policymakers and industry can come together and form strategic alliances to harness some of these key competitive advantages. It will look at the best way forward to enable Europe to keep control of its digital destiny and set course for a more sustainable, inclusive, and world-leading digital future.
As 5G rollout and digital transformation initiatives accelerate both in Europe and across the world, it is vital that a clear and co-ordinated strategy is in place to ensure that cyber security and privacy protection remain a top priority. In recent years, the European Union has been seen as leading the way in this area, implementing several initiatives in order to develop trust and cooperation across member states. With the review of the NIS Directive expected before the end of 2020, and with us now being one year on from the launch of the EU toolbox on 5G Cybersecurity, this session will look at the extent to which these these and other key policy instruments can come together to ensure the security and resilience of Europe’s 5G networks.
Stage 1 – Nokia’s vision on 6G: the perspective of a European global player – Hosted by Nokia
Stage 2 – Taking verticals from 5G towards 6G – Hosted by Huawei
Stage 3 – Building the future European 5G networks with OpenRAN – Hosted by Facebook
As we begin to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, all around the world, Governments are looking to put into place a recovery strategy built around 2 core principles – technology and sustainability. 5G and related technologies such as AI, IoT and SuperComputing are seen as being a key part of this and of building a safer more sustainable future for us all. At the same time however, there are also concerns about the environmental impact of 5G, and the amount of energy consumed by the additional infrastructure that is required to cope with the 5G era. This session will look at both sides of the coin. As 5G adoption around the world continues, it will look at the best way forward to manage growth in a sustainable way in order to minimise the initial environmental impact. And then moving forward, it will look at how the power of 5G can be harnessed to help us emerge from the pandemic stronger, and accelerate the EU’s trajectory towards a greener, safer future for us all.
As part of her State of the Union Address in September 2020, President von der Leyen set out the European Commission’s recommendations on a common European toolbox of best practices aimed at “…reducing the cost of deploying very high capacity networks and ensuring timely and investment-friendly access to 5G radio spectrum”. Member states are now required to deliver a national roadmap for the implementation of this toolbox by April 2021. With the situation across Europe currently very mixed and many member states behind the schedules set out for both 5G network deployment and spectrum allocation, this session will look at the extent to which this toolbox will help to address this, and at how stakeholders across Europe need to come together in order to keep the European Commission’s 5G Action Plan on track.
Launched in 2012, the original Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP) was instrumental in shaping EU communications policy and setting the direction for the development of 4G networks across the continent. As we now move into the 5G era, the European Commission has signalled its intention to this year establish a new RSPP, and to provide a future-looking roadmap to illustrate how spectrum can best support broader European policy prioirites up until 2030. The process of consultation on this has already begun, with the RSPG due to release an opinion on this by June 2021 (with an initial draft expected in Q1). This session will discuss the main pillars and focusses that are under consideration for inclusion as part of the programme, and at how recent policy, regulatory and technological developments can be integrated into this. As the journey continues to 5G and beyond, it will look at the connectivity challenges that still remain, and at how the RSPP can deliver a roadmap to support gigabit connectivity throughout Europe going forward.
Stage 1: Project Darwin: the evolution of nextgen vehicle connectivity – Hosted by ESOA
Stage 2: 5G implementation in non EU countries in Europe – Hosted by ITU
Stage 3: How SES enables 5G with cloud connectivity – Hosted by SES
5G actions have now been taking place across Europe for quite some time in the 700 MHz, 3.6 GHz, and 26 GHz bands. But Covid and a number of other factors have led to considerable delays across some countries, and the situation regarding the award and allocation of these bands is quite varied. In countries that awards have taken place, there is also a variety of different licencing models being seen, and particularly regarding the allocation of spectrum for private 5G networks. This session will look at where we are with regards to the rollout of spectrum that is needed for 5G in the short term. As the 5G spectrum environment starts to emerge, it will look at the different approaches, themes and trends that are being seen across member states, and at what ultimately is the best way forward to meet the connectivity requirements of the huge number of different use cases that are being seen.
As we have just seen, work across Europe is continuing on the award and allocation of spectrum in the pioneer bands. At the same time however, attention is already moving on to other options to provide the required connectivity for 5G and beyond. A range of different bands have been discussed as options to be considered for this (600MHz, 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz, 3.8 – 4.2GHz, 6GHz, 10GHz, 28GHz, 40GHz, 66GHz amongst them). As we look further ahead, technological advances could also mean that there will be options available to start exploring the use of bands in frequency ranges that have never been considered before, for example in the THz range). This session will look at the challenges and opportunities that are offered by some of these bands, and at which offer the most realistic options to provide the required large contiguous blocks of spectrum that are required for 5G. It will discuss the amount of additional spectrum that is truly required to meet current and future demands for connectivity and enable Europe, and at how this can be identified in a way that also takes into account the needs of other key users.