Europe is leading 5G trial activities worldwide with 138 trials in 23 countries developing new 5G business opportunities, according to the Second Quarterly Report of the European Commission’s 5G Observatory.
With Digital Cities Challenge participants Amsterdam, Barcelona, Espoo, L’Aquila, Oulu, and Patras playing a major role in preparing the ground as designated pre-commercial Trial Cities.
The recently published report shows preparations for the latest generation of cellular mobile communications are intensifying in Europe as the first 5G networks are ready to be opened for business.
Finnish operator Elisa has already launched some 5G functionalities commercially, while other operators have announced plans for an initial launch this year. However, it is expected that large-scale deployment will really begin in 2020 when sufficient consumer 5G smartphones and tablets become available.
But pre-commercial trials exploring new market opportunities from smart cities to Connected and Automated Mobility are almost complete, preparing companies for the next wave of digital transformation in Europe.
Spain, France, Germany and Italy lead the way, accounting for 40% of the trials which use the advanced capabilities of 5G, such as connectivity for mission-critical applications.
“In the coming months, European mobile operators should prepare the deployment phase and will be able to perform tests in ‘real’ conditions as the first 5G smartphones are expected to be available in the first half of 2019,” states the report.
The European Commission’s action plan, announced in September 2016 and confirmed by the EU member states in December 2017, targets the commercial rollout of 5G in one major city in every member state by 2020, as well as coverage of the main urban areas and transport routes by 2025.
Specific cities in Europe announced their plans to become 5G Trials Cities, at the forefront of 5G trials and pilots. At the end of 2017, seventeen Trial Cities had been announced in 9 Member States: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bari, Berlin, Espoo, L’Aquila, London, Madrid, Malaga, Matera, Milan, Oulu, Patras, Prato, Stockholm, Tallinn and Turin.