Europe needs to pump 300 billion euros ($ 355 billion) into communications infrastructure by 2025 if it is to roll out the ultra-fast 5G network across the 27-nation bloc to boost economic growth and take advantage of technology potential, a report said Thursday.
The study by BCG Consulting, commissioned by telecoms lobbying group ETNO, comes as the European Union pinches its hopes on 5G to pull it out of the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and take the lead in internet-connected devices.
But telecom operators in the European Union have been reluctant to invest in 5G networks, which could support smart factories and self-driving cars, due to the huge expenditures, while they say that expansion plans via mergers to take over these costly projects have been hampered by difficult European Union antitrust rules.
The report said: “150 billion euros are still needed to achieve a full 5G scenario in Europe, while an additional 150 billion euros are required to complete the upgrade of fixed infrastructure to gigabit speeds.”
And the delay in auctioning 5G spectrum – the airwaves needed for operators to start offering 5G commercially – due to governments shifting focus to tackling the pandemic has disappointed the industry as well.
The study suggested several actions that governments and regulators could take to boost the telecom industry.
“One of these steps is to pursue new ownership models that include voluntary participation in infrastructure, which can allow for faster deployment, reduce the overall environmental impact, and increase knowledge transfer between partners,” the report said.
Loosening the rules to allow telecom service providers to collaborate and co-invest or to separate infrastructure construction from telecom service companies were also some suggestions.
The study also called for allowing operators to monetize the data traffic on their networks to catch up with competitors such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech giants.