Ericsson’s CEO warns that Europe can not afford to lag behind on 5G as it did on 4G

Europe’s telecoms regulators must do more to support the rollout of 5G across the continent, according to Ericsson’s CEO, Börje Ekholm.

In an online blog post, Ekholm said that Europe was still paying the price for having lagged behind the rest of the world in 4G rollout.  

"The real issue on 5G delay in Europe relates primarily to regulatory policies. Actually, Europe is already behind in 4G compared to the US and China.

"When 4G was introduced in Europe there was prolonged discussion about use cases. Meanwhile, China and the US raced ahead to build out 4G infrastructure, providing young and new companies with unprecedented infrastructure for innovation on a global scale," he said.

Ekholm referenced US and Chinese tech giants like Facebook, Netflix, Tencent and Alibaba, highlighting the fact that these companies built their businesses on the back of the 4G connectivity boom. Ekholm said that Europe could not afford to be late to the party with 5G, and spend another generation playing commerce catch up.

"Having lacked that same digital infrastructure, it is equally no surprise that Europe has a much more limited role on the world tech stage. It would be similar to expecting companies in a country without roads to build the best cars. 

"That same opportunity for innovation exists with 5G. But on an even bigger scale because 5G is a platform for innovation way beyond mobility and into the Internet of Things and the next industrial revolution," he said.

Ericsson has live 5G networks in Korea, the US, and was part of Europe’s first at-scale 5G rollout in Switzerland, where it aims to achieve 90 per cent population coverage by the end of the year. 

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