5G set to accelerate Europe's digital transformation

Written by Willem Jonker & Roberto Sarocco on 5 May 2016 in Opinion

Capability to foster innovation and create market opportunities will be 5Gs winning factor, argue Willem Jonker and Roberto Sarocco.

Within the next decade, over seven billion smart phones and 100 billion objects will be connected wirelessly to the Internet.

5G will be the key factor leveraging more and cheaper, less energy hungry sensors, chips and devices.

The ICT sector is important both as an enabler, providing infrastructure, and in creating the market through the development of services and applications which exploit the multi-access and multi-transaction capabilities which distinguish 5G from 4G.


In a world where innovation can happen anywhere at any time, the capability to foster innovation and create market opportunities will be the winning factor.

The digital transformation in Europe is changing our lives, businesses and the environment and will be further accelerated by 5G. The improvement in the robustness and availability of connectivity will affect areas as diverse as healthcare, industry and the way we live in our cities.

Europe has the technology, skills, industry and market, which if properly orchestrated, can ensure the EU maintains its leading role and remains globally competitive in this area.

European industry is well positioned and has a long standing reputation of bringing digital standards to world markets. Many of our EIT Digital partners are already at the forefront of the development of technologies at the root of 5G, including equipment manufacturers such as Ericsson and Nokia.

Telecom operators such as Deutsche Telecom, British Telecom and TIM are already deploying the underlying infrastructure upon which 5G will be based.

In addition, our large corporates such as Philips, Siemens and Thales will be instrumental in developing smart products that will use the breadth of connectivity provided by 5G, and are already adapting their business models to respond to the disruptive opportunities that it presents.

5G is a continuous innovation and integration path and as such is at the heart of EIT Digital innovation activities, which are focussed on topics such as Software Defined Networks (SDN), cyber security and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Our roadmap for 5G is in synch with industry and the market: by the end of 2016 our federated test bed will be open to third parties, including start-ups and SMEs, to test flexible usage of network and devices.

This will encourage partners to explore new ways to leverage on network and edge resources and exploit the flexibility offered by SDN.

Next year, our certification lab will provide a European seal to applications, services and equipment exploiting multi-gateway access and network resources.

By 2018, an open communication platform will make IoT connectivity seamless in a multi-protocol multi-radio access; right on time for the first implementation of 5G devices in 2019.

We are also linked to a number of EU initiatives, partnering with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the largest technical community in the world, and we are working with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) contributing to its standardisation activities.

We are working on incremental innovation in a range of vertical sectors and are doing so now to help ensure Europe remains an international leader on this agenda.

About the author

Willem Jonker, is the CEO of EIT Digital. Roberto Sarocco is Node Director Italy, for EIT Digital

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