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EU Teams With South Korea On 5G

The European Union is to work with the South Korean government on the development of 5G networks in a bid to establish standards and a roadmap for the ill-defined next-generation technology by the end of next year.

The joint effort, announced on Monday, will set up a joint group to develop systems, set standards and prepare the radio frequencies that will be needed to accommodate the new technology.


What 5G might actually be remains as yet ill-defined, its name merely designating the technology that is to come after current 4G networks – and, indeed, to begin with the joint effort will focus on establishing a definition that can be used to focus further efforts, according to the European Commission.

Under the agreement, the EU and South Korean governments pledged to launch further joint research plans in 2016 and to harmonise radio frequencies that could be used for 5G.

The Commission said 5G technology could be a means to re-establish Europe as a leading-edge centre for the development of wireless technologies.

“In the ’90s we were in the driver seat, talking about GSM, so it would nice to be back in that position,” said Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, in a statement. She said work should begin “the sooner the better”, projecting that 5G could become “the new lifeblood” of the digital economy.

“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,” Kroes stated.

5G rollout plans

South Korean companies including Samsung rely heavily on mobile sales for profits, with the mobile penetration rate in the country at more than 100 percent.

Under the agreement the EU and South Korea intend to be the first to bring 5G to commercial markets, in December 2020. The EC said 5G could allow a one-hour, high-definition film to be downloaded in six seconds, down from six minutes using current standards.

South Korea’s government said it expects private- and public-sector investment in 5G to reach 1.6tn won (£920m) over the next seven years.

The EC said in December it would allot 700 million euros (£560m) along with more than 3bn euros from the private sector for exploratory 5G research, with projects set to be selected for funding by the end of this eyar for an initial investment round of 125 million euros.

In the private sector, the investment plans announced on Monday are to be led by Belgium-based 5G PPP, a group including technology and telecommunications companies including Telefonica, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel Lucent, which will work with South Korea’s 5G Forum, backed by Samsung, LG, and mobile providers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus.

UK 5G efforts

In the UK, 5G efforts have included the foundation of a £35m 5G Innovation Centre last year, with trials of pilot technology carried out by the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR).

Earlier this month EE announced its 4G services now cover 72 percent of the total UK population. The company said in September of last year that it had reached 1 million 4G subscribers, four months earlier than its end-of-year target.

Do you know all about 4G and the mobile future? Take our quiz.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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