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EC signs landmark 5G agreement with South Korea

Will work together to create common standards
Mon Jun 16 2014, 12:07
A pair of mobile phone masts stand proudly against the backdrop of a blue sky

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has signed an agreement with South Korean government to work together on creation and implementation of 5G technology.

Europe has lagged significantly behind Asia in the adoption and rollout of 4G, with the UK being one of the last countries to participate after delays in auctions for spectrum capacity.

The deal is designed to ensure not only hastening the decision on a common standard for 5G technology but also harmonisation of frequency bands. Since cellular telephony began, there has been disharmony of spectrum allotment between different regional regulatory authorities, and as a result phone makers have had to make multiple versions of devices for different markets or provide multiple radios for international roaming.

By agreeing a common set of frequencies early, 5G devices should be simpler to build, potentially making them cheaper. 5G has the potential for much higher capacities than 4G, which will be essential as users begin carrying multiple internet connected devices rather than just phones.

UK regulator Ofcom recently announced its 10 year plan for the spectrum in the UK, which allowed several possible bands for 5G, some based on moving the existing Freeview TV signals into a smaller band, following the success of the digital switchover.

European Commission VP for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said, "5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognise this. This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardisation. Today's declaration signals the our commitment to being global digital leaders."

The partners intend to have a full statement of intent by the end of 2015 with a view to rolling out 5G in 2016 and 2017. µ


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