Towards the Successful Deployment of 5G in Europe: Two Contrasting Scenarios
32 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2017
Date Written: August 10, 2017
European policy makers have shown a keen interest in the success of 5G because ubiquitous and high capacity electronic communication infrastructure is recognized as a cornerstone of economic development and productivity growth. The second generation, GSM, is considered the leading example, reaching its peak in deployment in 2015 with 3.83 billion subscribers served through over 700 operators in 219 countries and territories.
With 5G rapidly shaping up in the R&D and standardization environment, what are the lessons to be learned from 1G through 4G that should be taken into account to ensure a leadership role? What does 5G have in common with previous generations and where is it different? Is the path towards the future predetermined or are there alternative routes? When there are multiple futures with different outcomes which one is more desirable? In summary, what would be the policy and regulatory framework required to enable leadership with 5G in Europe?
To respond to these questions this contribution identifies first the policy and regulatory lessons to be drawn from the success of GSM. Secondly, this contribution describes two stylized images of possible futures of 5G, ‘Evolution’ and ‘Revolution’. These reflect two extremes in terms of possible futures of 5G. ‘Evolution’ follows the pattern of previous generations and current trends. ‘Revolution’ represents a clear break with these trends and a path towards leadership with 5G, as it exploits the opportunities of standardized APIs for service creation, being enabled by network virtualization as an architectural foundation of 5G. These open APIs allow the market entry of a multitude of virtual mobile network operators (VMNOs) serving particular industry verticals or economic sectors with tailored feature sets and qualities of services.
Keywords: Mobile communication; 5G; leadership; Europe; policy; regulation
JEL Classification: K23, L16, L22, L26, L96
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