The two governments are jointly funding four 5G projects to help create a “European ecosystem for private networks in the field of 5G telecommunications”

Back in 2020, the French and German governments agreed to collaborate in the development of 5G and by spring 2021 a joint call for 5G projects focussing on private campus networks using Open RAN architecture had been announced. 

Now, around a year later, the French and German governments are jointly providing €17.7 million to support four winning 5G projects that will be co-developed by a consortia of 14 French and 16 German partner companies. 

“I am looking forward to an intensive collaboration between France and Germany. This is an important step in order to drive the economy forward with the help of state-of-the-art technologies,” said Robert Habeck, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. “The selected consortia will make major progress in the field of private 5G networks. Thus, we are taking another big step forward in terms of digital sovereignty for 5G in Europe. And it also shows that our intention is not only to introduce the latest mobile communications standards, but also to help shape this transformation.” 

The four selected projects are: 

The 5G-OPERA project: Aiming to create a Franco-German ecosystem for private 5G networks using open architectures, this project will include the operation of testbeds for Industry 4.0 use cases in both France and Germany, as well as supporting the other three winning projects.

The 5G4BP project: Seeking to establish open 5G networks in business parks that do not currently have access to public 5G. 

The 5G OR project: Creating a wirelessly networked operating theatre using a private 5G network, aiming to improve the quality of treatment given to patients, with a focus on personalised, minimally invasive procedures. Interoperable demonstrations will take place in collaboration with hospitals in Berlin, Mannheim, and Strasbourg.

The 5G FORUM project: Aiming to devise “simple and safe solutions for installing and networking essential medical equipment”, as well as better equipping surgeons to deliver remote services, such as optimising their work environments. These solutions will be tested in Aachen University Hospital in phase one, with a similar project planned for Grenoble in Phase 2.

Private networks are an incredibly hot prospect right now, with numerous private network deals arising all over the world for various industries, including mining, ports, manufacturing, and healthcare. 

Indeed, just today, Nokia announced that it was working with Alstom to provide a private 4G network for a high-speed rail system in India, with the vendor noting that they have already worked with over 380 enterprises for private wireless solutions.

It is also worth remembering here that Germany is something of a unique market for exploring the private networks, with the regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, having reserved 100MHz of 5G spectrum in the 3.7GHz/3.8GHz band for industrial and enterprise players in the last spectrum auction, thereby allowing them to build their own networks without partnering with a traditional telecoms operator. By the summer of 2021, the regulator had reportedly awarded 123 spectrum licences for private networks.

This is an approach that other European regulators have been reticent to follow, with the then French Secretary of State for Telecommunications, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, saying in 2019 that there was ‘no clear need’ for allocation to non-telecoms players.


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