The European Union (EU) and China announced a partnership to strengthen cooperation on 5G technology, which the European Commission dubbed the “backbone of our digital future” in a Monday press release.
“5G will be the backbone of our digital economies and societies worldwide,” Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in a statement. “With today’s signature with China, the EU has now teamed up with the most important Asian partners in a global race to make 5G a reality by 2020. It’s a crucial step in making 5G a success.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the EU and China will work collaboratively to meet several 5G objectives, including the determination of a “global understanding” of key technologies, concepts, basic functionalities and a time frame for 5G by the end of this year; the exploration of joint 5G research; the promotion of a global 5G standardization; the identification of radio frequency bands that will meet spectrum requirements for 5G; and the further exploration of possibilities for 5G applications and services, including the Internet of Things.
Monday’s announcement comes on the heels of similar agreements the EU signed with Japan and South Korea in May and June of this year, respectively, and marks another step in the EU’s march toward 5G.
In December 2013, the European Commission launched the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership, a 1.4 billion Euro iniative, to bring together industry manufacturers, operators, service providers and researchers to deliver 5G standards and solutions.
The EU’s efforts come amid increased global competition between countries and carriers to be the first to roll out new 5G technology. Earlier this month, Verizon announced that it is currently building 5G “sandbox” test environments in Massachusetts and California and expects to begin conducting 5G field trials next year.
In mid-September, Nokia set a 2020 deadline for the first commercial 5G rollout in Europe. Other companies, including Huawei, KT Telecom and NTT Docomo, have also announced 5G launch dates of 2018 (Huawei and KT) and 2020 (NTT Docomo).