EU-China 5G agreement vital to unlocking the benefits of digital innovation

The EU and China have signed an agreement to work together to develop 5G networks.

By William Louch

30 Sep 2015

The announcement was made during this week's EU-China high level economic and trade dialogue in Beijing.

The agreement was signed by Günther Oettinger, European digital economy Commissioner, and Miao Wei, Chinese Minister of industry and information technology.

Vicky Ford, chair of the European Parliament's internal market committee and a member of the Parliament's delegation to China, has welcomed the move.


Speaking to the Parliament Magazine, Ford said, "It is important to work with partners across the world. Combined, the EU and Chinese markets represent around a billion and a half consumers so clearly global manufacturers will be incentivised to produce products complying with common standards between these markets."

5G is the name given to the next generation of wireless network communications described by Oettinger as "the backbone of our digital future."  

By 2020, the amount of mobile internet traffic will be 30 times greater than it was in 2010, with over 200 billion connected devices in the world. To cope with the increase, a higher-speed mobile network would be needed.

5G would provide this. It would enable significantly faster data speeds, improve the connectivity of mobile devices with other appliances and increase the ease with which we can send data from one device to another.

According to Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, it would allow people to download an eight gigabyte HD movie in six seconds, versus the seven minutes it would take on 4G, or more than an hour on 3G.

A Commission press release outlined the terms of the declaration, which says that the EU and China will seek to reach a global understanding, by the end of 2015, on the concept, basic functionalities, key technologies and time plan for 5G.

Ford said she supported these measures, highlighting the importance of "identifying common standards for 5G," saying it is "absolutely vital to unlocking the benefits of digital innovation."

Oettinger also reiterated the need for global cooperation on the matter, saying, "we strongly support and seek a global consensus and cooperation on 5G."

He added, "with today's signature with China, the EU has now teamed up with the most important Asian partners in a global race to make 5G a reality by 2020."

The European Commission is currently committed to investing €700m through the Horizon 2020 programme to support research and innovation in 5G. EU industry is set to match this investment by up to five times, to more than €3bn.

The deal builds on similar agreements signed earlier this year with Japan and South Korea.

Next month, Commissioner Oettinger will host a workshop on 5G with representatives from the US, South Korea, Japan and China during the ICT-2015 conference in Lisbon.

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