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Industry hits back at Europe’s restrictions on 5G development

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A horde of the most influential executives in the European telco segment have written to the European Commission warning of the damage excessive red-tape will have on the development of the digital economy.

The letter itself focuses on the 26 GHz band, much lauded for the development of 5G over the next few years, and the strict restrictions which may be placed on telcos when using the spectrum. The consortium of technologists are pursuing a regulatory environment which would be considered more pragmatic, flexible and investment friendly, with fears a more restrictive approach, as currently proposed in the most recent draft of this ECC Decision would see the bloc fall further behind the US and Asia.

“In order to make 5G a success and enable the sector to develop into a healthy industry, the conditions of use of the pioneer 26 GHz band should be as least restrictive as possible, and flexible enough to create a ripe environment for growth and development,” the letter reads.

“This is a principle that Europe has applied in the past for many other frequency bands for mobile communications. Such an environment would incentivise network roll-out, and provision of extremely high capacity, high data rates and high quality of services for consumers.

“There is a unique opportunity at the moment to give Europe the tools needed to be a global leader in the development of 5G, in order to transform our economy and society and take advantage of the limitless possibilities it can offer.”

Looking at the specifics, the current draft is proposing a value of [-42/-44] dBW/200 MHz for unwanted emissions from 5G base stations in order to protect Earth Exploration Satellite Service (EESS) passive sensors in the band 23.6-24 GHz, which is deemed excessively tight. The GSMA believes a value in the range -32 to -37 dBW/200 MHz is more than sufficient, which is supported by various compatibility studies. Other technical issues have been raised, though this is the largest concern of the industry and the GSMA.

The letter itself has been signed by some of Europe’s largest telcos, as well as a host of vendors including Samsung, Huawei and Ericsson. A more hands-off regulatory environment, similar to that pretty much everywhere else is sought, to encourage innovation and scalability. Of course, this dream is contradictory to the usual playbook from busybody bureaucrats in Brussels, but it is an issue which has been raised elsewhere very recently.

Only last week during Mary Meeker’s much anticipated evaluation of the digital economy did the venture capitalist point to European regulations as a potential problem. It is a tight-rope walk, as being too standoffish is not healthy for anyone, while an oppressive regulatory environment throttles innovation and encourages entrepreneurs to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, Europe tends to come down more on the heavy-handed side of the fence.

When looking at the investments being made in infrastructure, as well as trials and the ambitions of the telcos, it is clear Europe is lagging in the 5G race. Tie in a regulatory environment which could be perceived as too oppressive, it is no wonder pundits are backing other regions as the digital super powers of tomorrow.

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