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03 March 2017

Telecoms Chiefs Warn of Europe's 5G Pipe Dream

© Bloomberg
Telecoms chiefs warn of Europe’s 5G pipe dream
by Nic Fildes in Barcelona, ft.com,
1st March 2017

European Commission told that region could fall behind US and Asia without new rules

Europe’s largest telecoms operators have warned the European Commission that plans for the region to take a leading role in next generation 5G mobile services are in danger of becoming a “pipe dream” given the capital constraints on the sector.

Andrus Ansip, Brussels’ commissioner for the digital single market, met with a group of chief executives in Barcelona this week at Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest telecoms trade show. The commission has launched a ‘5G action plan’ aimed at stimulating investment in ultrafast mobile technology so that Europe is not left behind by other regions, notably the US and China, in the race to upgrade telecoms networks. Mr Ansip was told that the plan was a “pipe dream”, according to a senior executive who attended the meeting. Executives said that telecoms companies would struggle to justify the investment due to low growth in the mobile sector, a lack of consolidation and onerous regulation at both the European and national levels. The action plan estimates that regional 5G upgrades could cost €57bn but telecoms companies believe that cost could be much higher.

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