EU Carriers Allege Net Neutrality Rules Impeding 5G Progress

The Digital Single Market has called upon the European Commission and member countries to expedite a 5G Action Plan to ensure rollout of 5G in the European Union by 2020. Aside from recommending a number of steps to accelerate the process, a number of Telecom companies, including the likes of BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Hutchison Whampoa, and Ericsson, have also asked the Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society to ensure the availability of sufficient spectrum through harmonized licensing, to remove restrictive Net Neutrality rules, and to ensure 5G monetization to meet the 5G implementation target. In a 7-page 5G Manifesto, the twenty-two telecom companies, with support from the likes of Royal Philips, Airbus, and Siemens AG, have also urged the Commissioner to necessitate a dialogue between vertical industries and themselves to build future roadmaps.

Among the list of necessary steps which telecoms consider indispensable while implementing a 5G Action Plan are creating and supporting 5G standards, conducting pan-European trials from time to time, funding start-ups and innovations along with 5GPPP's research and innovation projects and creating deployment priorities. Asking the Commissioner to facilitate the creation of rules that are future-oriented, pro-investment and pro-innovation, telecoms added that an Open Internet should be the priority and that existing Net Neutrality guidelines pose 'significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment', are restrictive and 'should allow for both innovative specialized services required by industrial applications and the Internet Access quality expected by all consumers.' The telecoms also agreed that fair return on investments on 5G wouldn't be possible until monetization is targeted across the board and covers end-users, service providers, and industry verticals.

The fact that the European Union is serious about implementing 5G across all member countries by 2020 became apparent back in 2013 when the Commission made a €50 million investment into researching 5G technologies. Earlier this year, the Commission also proposed that TV broadcasting spectrum can be used for enabling 5G networks to handle speeds of up to 1 gigabits. G.H. Oettinger, the Commissioner, states "the 700 MHz band will be ideal for new promising fields like connected driving and the Internet of Things. I want Europe to lead in 5G. That is why all Member States must act by 2020." Whether the European Commission will be able to create 5G standards, make more spectrum available and open up funding sources for start-ups, innovations, and telecoms within a stipulated time will be interesting to see in the coming days. A number of carriers in the United States as well as in some Asian countries have expressed confidence in implementing 5G network by 2020, with time as well as availability of funds and ideas having now become a crucial factor in the implementation process.

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