Soaring energy bills may force telecoms companies to delay investments in to 5G, widening Europe’s network gap, says Vodafone exec
“To pay energy bills, I don’t see other solutions but to postpone investments,” Vodafone Italy chief executive ldo Bisio told Reuters at an industry event.
Europe lags the US and Asia in rolling out fifth-generation mobile services and Bisio said higher energy costs leading to investment delays would further widen the gap.
Earlier this month Siemens chairman Jim Snabe said 5G networks in Europe were “currently insular, patchy and, in many places, non-existent”.
Writing in an op-ed piece he said the lack of sizeable investment was “the greatest impediment to competitive 5G coverage” and that this in turn was due to a relatively fragmented telecommunications market.
There are currently about 150 telecoms operators in Europe, he said, and “most of them lack market share and scale – and consequently, the financial means – to fund the infrastructure development needed for the networks of the future”.
The European Union should rethink competition laws in order to allow mobile companies to consolidate, giving them more resources to invest in 5G, Snabe argued.
“To achieve 5G coverage like in China or the US, we will need to consolidate our telecommunications sector, which, in turn, will require rethinking European competition law,” Snabe wrote.
“If we are late to 5G, we will be late to digitise our industry and our society, and will lose our competitive edge.”
In addition to expanding the rollout of current 5G technologies – which largely depend on a 4G core – carriers also face a significant challenge in migrating to standalone (SA) 5G, which is required for the most anticipated features of next-generation networks.
Networked industrial robots and self-driving cars, for instance, require the low latencies of a standalone 5G core.
Last month BT and Nokia claimed a significant advance in the shift toward 5G SA networks after completing a carrier aggregation (CA) trial in which they combined four spectrum channels on the live network of its EE subsidiary.
“The reason it is taking quite a while to roll out the 5G core is that’s a sea change in the underlying infrastructure,” said BT chief technology officer Howard Watson at an industry event earlier this month.
Ericsson said in June it sees 5G subscriptions passing the 1 billion mark worldwide this year, in spite of turmoil caused by macroeconomic factors and the Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
The figures reflect strong demand for wireless broadband connectivity and are boosted by higher adoption in North America and China, Ericsson said in its biannual Mobility Report.
The company said it revised its projections downward by about 100 million due to economic and other factors.