Total Telecom – International trade wars threaten to spark a 5G arms race – but is Europe even in the running?
Regardless of how quickly The UK can launch 5G, the general consensus is that Europe will struggle to bring 5G to market before the latter half of 2020 or even 2021.
“5G it will be a phased introduction. It will begin in 2020 and then over the next 7 years or so it will reach more comprehensive population coverage,” said Bengt Nordstrom, CEO of Northstream.
“The introduction of 5G will vary from region to region. China and the US are investing more – they don’t have better business cases than we do, it is just that in the US they have greater faith in the ability of technology to solve problems. It’s in their culture to go ahead with it [5G].
“In China it will be fuelled by the potential industry impact – how the Chinese ICT industry will be impacted and how they will benefit from that. It’s a governmental directive to launch early over there.
“Now, the two find themselves in something of an arms race and therefore they will push each other to launch earlier and earlier,” he added.
Northstream’s 5G analysis report identifies Japan and South Korea as the two nations who are most likely to be “first for 5G”. 5G trials have been underway in both countries since 2017 and both countries expect to start rolling out 5G on a nationwide basis in 2019.
The US will see regional rollout as early as Q4 2018, according to the report.
“From the US government’s point of view, 5G is right at the top of Trump’s agenda,” said Nordstrom.
So why are European operators lagging behind their Oriental and Occidental cousins when it comes to 5G? One of the main reasons is scale.
“In the US, operators will launch 5G in a single market of 350 million consumers whilst in China that market will contain over a billion people. In Europe we launch on an individual operator basis in medium sized countries. We do not have the same scale.
“The key difference here is that in Europe we have very consumer focused policies. The European regulators have the mind-set that Europe is a perfect market [for consumers] – we have very low prices for mobile broadband, we have competition between the key players, prices continue to fall – what more could you want?
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