A complicated place to organize anything consistently, Europe is progressing with 5G rollouts slowly compared to other continents across the globe.
Though the coronavirus pandemic unfortunately delayed 5G deployments in Europe, it has started to pick up from where it left off and is ready to take the ship forward. In 2021, Europe is expecting a lot with most of the European countries working rigorously in terms of delivery high speed connectivity with 5G networks to support use cases for various industry verticals. Network operators are on the way to showcasing what can be achieved as they continue to develop the fifth-generation technology. In this article, we will talk about what is the current state of 5G connectivity in different countries across Europe and how are they being facilitated with 5G connections and future plans and beyond.
- 5G technology and its connectivity infrastructures
European countries seem to be in the eleventh hour as they plan to expedite 5G deployment and enable 5G services to mass people and catch up with many American countries in 2021. They are considered to be behind other nations across the globe when we talk about 5G rollouts. France is the one country in Europe to standout in 5G deployment. However, the frequency licensing process is still slowed a bit in the wake of coronavirus lockdown since last spring in 2020. Orange, a French multinational telecom organisation has taken the initiative and launched nine Orange 5G Labs that will enable telcos to develop and conduct 5G ran testing before making it usable for commercial purposes.
It will open a network of Orange 5G lab sites in France and abroad this year. It will be located in the regions that will meet the critical requirements of local authorities and enterprises – SMEs, large enterprises and startups – irrespective of their sector. Moreover, seven of these sites in France will be focused on firms and local authorities.
Belgium based Orange Lab adjacent to the Orange Industry 4.0 campus in the Port of Antwerp has witnessed collaborations with many industrial partners in the port. They have already developed different use cases like critical communication systems and augmented worker with the implementation of new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- EU boosts 5G investment
The EU has paved the way for 5G ecosystem with funding 11 latest technology and trial projects worth €70 million. These comprise eight brand new projects aimed at building state-of-the-art European supply chain for 5G hardware. Additionally, other three projects will come up with applications in cross-border automated and connected mobility. The cross-border projects are focused on imparting 5G connectivity and laying the foundations for autonomous vehicles on the main road, maritime and train routes. These projects will furnish a 5G network infrastructure offering multi-application and multi-service features to a variety means of transport such as trucks, cars, boats, trains etc. as well as enhanced network services to common people (public users). Telecom players are conducting 5G testing with various equipments like 5G antenna in 5G labs and conducting network performance tests to deliver such excellent network connectivity and meet their personal and professional demands.
- Commercial launches of 5G networks in European countries
- On 3 December 2020, Orange France launched its commercial 5G mobile network services in 15 municipalities in 160 cities comprising Marseille, Angers, Nice, Le Mans and Clermont Ferrand.
- 5G commercial services have been deployed in many countries in Europe by the end of December 2020 – France, UK, Germany, Belgium, Sweden to name a few.
- Bouygues Telecom made its 5G network live in 20 major cities on 1 December 2020. This France based operator also aims to achieve coverage across the country as 2021 reaches its climax.
- Activating 5G services in ten cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and many more on 3 October, 2020, Telefonica became the third highest Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Germany.
- Vodafone Italy switched on its 5G network in 5 cities in the June month of 2019 (namely Rome, Milan, Bologna, Naples and Turin). Turin is the city comprising 80% of Vodafone network having around 120 cell sites. Talking about the future rollouts, it is anticipated to cover 100 cities by the end of 2021.
- The Masmovil Group became the fourth largest telecommunications Spanish operator in September 2020 after enabling 5G services in 15 cities. It also announced to launch its own 5G Standalone (SA) network in the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band within the spectrum range of 80 MHz.
Stepping in to the new year in 2021, operators are trying to make it the year of 5G which was already expected in 2020 but was a mess due to the inception of the pandemic. Having said that, there is much of an influence of COVID-19 especially in telecom industry with high demand of network connectivity to be served and will continue to grow. In the years to come, we anticipate to have more 5G use cases with the future of network thus giving several new opportunities for service providers to build networks that are resilient and can provide seamless network connections.