European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes has warned Europe that it faces being left behind once again unless it takes steps to speed up development of 5G mobile technologies.
Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Kroes said 5G would spur growth in the European technology industry but in order to truly flourish cooperation was needed. Not just between European governments and companies, but worldwide.
"So today I launch a challenge to you, Europe's 5G leaders, and to all the other regions of the world, from America to Asia," said Kroes. "Let's find a global consensus on the scope of 5G, its main technological constituents, and the timetable for putting it in place. Let's work this out together. And let's work it out soon: by the end of 2015. So all our citizens can get the 5G boost as early as possible."
She said 5G would be essential to a connected society and the internet of things.
"It will enable whole new fields of application and new solutions for society. From medical monitoring to smart cities to augmented reality. And integrating fixed and mobile. Meaning connectivity anytime, anywhere, through any available network," she added.
Kroes said 700 million euros had already been pledged by the EC in 2013 and the telecoms industry has responded by investing three billion euros in research and innovation projects.
She added the step up to 5G could not be a minor one.
"5G won't just be a bit faster, a bit higher capacity, or a linear progression from what we know today. The change will not be incremental, but exponential," said Kroes.
Kroes added that 4G was fundamental to the success and development of 5G.
"Let me assure all those who are still waiting for existing technology to reach them: 5G does not mean that we can do without 4G. Indeed, 5G will only be deployed on a large scale many years into the future; it needs 4G and 3G networks to get there. In fact it will also probably still need 2G networks: and Wi-Fi too," she said.
Among the firms carrying out research into 5G companies are Huawei, who its investing 400 million into the technology, and Samsung, who recently unveiled 5G technology capable of transfer speeds of 1Gbps
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Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.