A group of over 50 of the largest European tech and industrial firms have criticized EU members for lagging behind other countries in the rollout of 5G networks, calling for urgent measures before it is too late to close the gap.
The latest analysis by the European Round Table for Industry (ERT), released on Friday, shows that the 27-nation bloc’s progress on the development of the next-generation networks is too slow, compared to other parts of the world, especially South Korea, Switzerland and China.
“Concern is growing that Europe is far behind other world regions, in spite of being home to two globally leading mobile infrastructure companies,” the report read.
The ERT outlined setbacks in both commercialization and infrastructure deployment. According to its data, more than half of the EU member states have not yet launched 5G commercial services, while the EU countries as a whole have fewer than ten 5G base stations per million citizens. The report added there were “equally poor” rates of upgrading 4G infrastructure to 5G.
To put this in perspective, South Korea had around 1,500 5G towers per million last year. China previously announced plans to install an additional 600,000 5G base stations by the end of the year.
“It is not too late to close the gap with the United States, South Korea and China,” the group of business leaders noted. However, Brussels needs to act fast, they added.
The group’s statement on the poor state of Europe’s 5G sector came the same day the European Commission met to discuss how to boost the rollout of the super-fast networks. The officials had to admit that the 5G development is not going as planned, and the deployment is being delayed due to coronavirus lockdowns.
“We must therefore work together towards fast network rollout without any further delays,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age.
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