EU’s Oettinger hails 5G ‘revolution’

Europe's digital economy needs 5G
Europe's digital economy needs 5G

The transition in the telecoms industry to 5G, the fifth generation of mobile networks, will herald a "revolution" in digital communications, enabling new technologies that will change citizens' lives, European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Gunther Oettinger told CNBC.

The industry is targeting a transition to 5G in the next few years, said Oettinger at the CeBIT conference in Hannover, Germany on Tuesday.

The jump from 3G to 4G is a "kind of evolution but no revolution," he said. But 5G in combination with 4G was truly a technological revolution, the commissioner said, as it will enable new technology such as connected cars, and health care supported by digital technology. None of that is feasible without 5G.

"5G is just a technological enabler," Oettinger told CNBC.

The European Commission has predicted that by 2020, there will be 26 billion connected devices and 70 percent of people will own a smartphone.

"It's a European development project. We have a 5G public-private partnership with our industries, we are investing a lot. My expectation is that in 2020 we are ready to roll out," he said to CNBC.

Oettinger also emphasized that 5G harmonization is important, and companies should work together in order not to hurt the technology by pushing out the individual company first.

"We have to coordinate spectrum policy on a pan-European level, and … we have to be connected and we need joint agreements with relevant other markets...Japan, South Korea, China, India, Brazil and the U.S. – it's key at the end of the day to have a global level," Oettinger told CNBC.

Last month, the EU and Brazil signed an agreement to develop 5G mobile technology. This follows agreements with China, Japan and South Korea.

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