Last September, the European Commission announced the 5G Action Plan. According to the plan, each member must specify at least one major city where the commercial launch of 5G can be made by the end of 2020. Since then, the European countries have been issuing their plans to promote 5G deployment.

In November 2016, the Italian Government announced at the second 5GPPP Conference in Rome that 5G networks would be first deployed in five cities in the northern, central, and southern regions of the country. In March this year, the Italian Government made another announcement that the pilot 5G networks would be built in five cities (Milan, Prato, L ‘Aquila, Bari, and Matera) in the frequency bands of 3.7–3.8 GHz. The plan will be developed in the middle of the year together with the carriers and the pilot 5G networks will be launched at the end of the year.

In February this year, the Austrian Government issued a white paper, announcing that Austria will be a pioneer and leader of 5G in Europe. The government imposes strict requirements on carriers and provides policy support for them, such as the cleanup of the 3.5 GHz band and the spectrum auction in question. The Austrian Government approved the establishment of a 5G steering team that consists of the representatives (including the secretary-generals and heads of the related ministries) of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Infrastructure, and Ministry of Finance. They will prepare a 5G strategy for the government by the end of December, making Austria a leading country for 5G development in Europe.

The UK Government wants to be a global leader of 5G and is actively creating a good environment for 5G development. After selecting Bristol as the first pilot 5G city in the UK, the UK Government released a report on March 8 titled Next-Generation Mobile Technology: UK 5G Strategy, setting the tone for commercial use of 5G in this country. Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that the UK will create a new nation-wide innovative 5G network for 5G application testing. Furthermore, a series of local projects will be launched later this year to speed up the market popularity of all-fiber broadband.

Established Telecom Giants Take a Lead Role

With full support of the governments, the telecom carriers, as a major leader in the development of 5G, are increasingly turning to 5G. 

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DTAG has always been active in 5G and hopes to lead the development of the global standard for a new generation of communications. The company has set up a 5G innovation laboratory where the mainstream industry partners get involved, including leading telecom equipment vendors (such as Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, ZTE, Qualcomm, and Huawei) and some research institutions (including the SoftRAN Initiative at Stanford University in the USA, the DFKI, University of Kaiserslautern, and Fraunhofer Society in Germany).

Some established European telecom giants, such as Vodafone and Orange, are ready for 5G deployment and working on several 5G application scenarios. Orange will launch its commercial 5G deployment in 2020 after the field trials in 2018 and 2019.

Telefonica announced that the company has been deploying the next generation of 5G technologies in the existing 4G networks. Enrique Blanco, the CTO of the company, declared that 5G should be an evolution rather than a "revolution" of the existing technologies, and high-order QAM modulation, NB-IoT, LTE-M, and NFV are all 5G standards/technologies. Telefonica is deploying these technologies in the existing 4G networks and constantly evolving them. Ericsson, ZTE, Huawei, and Nokia are 5G partners of Telefonica.

Carriers Accelerate to 5G

When talk about 5G, Transmission speed is a key performance, that’s why operators always highlight network speed rate to show their 5G ambition. For example, Micha Berger, the CTO of Telenet, a Belgian carrier, announced late last year that a rate of 1.3 Gbps, four times that of the existing 4G networks, was achieved from the field test in conjunction with ZTE on the real network. Such a fast rate set a new record in the field tests in Europe, marking an important step towards 5G.

Telenet uses the exclusive Pre5G solution of ZTE in its network. The highlight of Pre5G is to use 5G technologies in 4G networks, which won The Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough and Outstanding overall Mobile Technology – The CTO’s Choice 2016 awards for ZTE.

More and more carriers are interested in this outstanding feature of Pre5G. Hutchison (Austria) and Telenor (Hungary) successively performed Pre5G Massive MIMO tests last year, and the network rate in the field test in Torokbalint (a southern region in Hungary) even exceeded 1.2 Gbps.

The rate is just one measure of the next generation of mobile networks. Compared with the previous generations of communication technologies, however, 5G is expected to bring more value to the human, economy, and industries, which is why there is a strong undercurrent in the global 5G arena.

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