A recent report revealed that Europe needs to pump 300 billion euros (355 billion dollars) into communications infrastructure by 2025 if it is to roll out the fifth generation network at breakneck speed across the 27-nation bloc to boost economic growth and take advantage of technology potential.
The study, conducted by BCG Consulting, commissioned by the communications lobbying group ETNO, comes at a time when the European Union is pinning its hopes on 5G to lift 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 through mergers to take over these costly projects have been hampered by the difficulty of EU antitrust rules.
“150 billion euros are still needed to realize a full 5G scenario in Europe, while an additional 150 billion euros are needed to finish upgrading the fixed infrastructure to gigabit speeds,” the report said. The delay in auctioning 5G spectrum – the airwaves needed for operators to start offering 5G commercially – as governments shift focus to tackling the pandemic has disappointed the industry as well.
The study suggested several measures that governments and regulators could implement to boost the telecom industry, and said, “One of these steps is to follow new ownership models that include voluntary participation of infrastructure, which can allow for faster deployment, reduce the overall environmental impact, and increase knowledge transfer between partners.”
Perhaps loosening the rules to allow telecom service providers to collaborate and jointly invest or to separate infrastructure construction from telecom service companies were also some suggestions, and the study called for allowing operators to generate income from data traffic on their networks to catch up with competitors such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other giants.