A number of European telecom giants raised concerns about their ability to compete with the United States and the rest of the world in the 5G race due to strict millimeter-wave spectrum rules the European Communications Committee (ECC) may choose to implement going forward. In an open letter published by the GSM Association earlier today, the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Huawei, KPN, and Orange argued that the latest draft of the legislation meant to regulate the use of the 26GHz band will largely inhibit their ability to leverage the crucial frequency to ensure consumers on the Old Continent can benefit from the next wireless revolution in a timely manner.
Among other things, the ECC is presently deliberating imposing highly restrictive emission limits on all types of mobile telecom equipment that will place the political bloc "at a significant disadvantage in the global 5G race and hamper its ability to compete effectively with other countries and regions," the letter reads. The European regulator has yet to respond to the move in any capacity, with the communication itself suggesting it should consider looser rules more akin to those adopted by South Korea and Japan, both of whom opted for a more "pragmatic approach" to limiting emissions related to mmWave spectrum. According to the EU's latest official 5G plan approved in 2016, the political bloc is targeting widespread coverage by 2025. By that year, European telecoms should offer 5G connectivity in all major cities and over all frequently traversed terrestrial roads on the continent. That timeline is still far behind a number of Far Eastern countries and the United States which are targeting national coverage by 2020.
Europe's first 5G spectrum auction will be held by Italy this September, with the country planning to raise the equivalent of at least $2.9 billion through the initiative. The FCC will be holding a similar auction in the U.S. this November, though stateside wireless carriers are far ahead of their European counterparts in terms of general 5G research and development, with both AT&T and Verizon presently pursuing plans to commercialize the new technology in select cities by the end of 2018. Outside of Germany and Italy, Nordic countries adopted the most proactive approach to 5G in Europe, many industry watchers believe.