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Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

From Barcelona to Brussels, building the momentum for network technologies

Network technologies at the core of the digital economy and society: the EU vision on 5G in the realisation of the digital single market and the preparation for large scale testing of the internet of things.

The last few weeks have been intense as far as network technologies are concerned with two significant announcements and milestones during two conferences: Mobile World Congress 2015 and Netfutures 2015.

From 2 to 5 March, Mobile World Congress took place in Barcelona. It was the tenth edition, and more than ever the global highlight for the telecom industry. According to GSMA, the organisers, 94,000 attended the conference including 5,000 CEOs and close to 400 media analysts. There were as usual a series of announcements, like Samsung galaxy S6 and Samsung Pay, a new phone by Alcatel called Idol, or Nokia and NTT DoCoMo announcing they have reached speeds of above 2Gbs in their 5G test.

In fact 5G was the biggest theme at MWC this year, thanks notably to the Commission. For the first time we had a booth to showcase results from our ignition phase preceding the launch of the 5G- PPP! It was a great opportunity to raise the profile of EU research and to showcase in front of many visitors and many high-level guests from Members of the European Parliament to international partners from Korea or Japan. In addition, our project partners Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Alcatel-lucent had also agreed to have demonstrations in their stands about 5G, and the European flag could be seen in relation to the projects we fund.

Most importantly, the two Commissioners attracted significant attention in Barcelona. Vice President Ansip spoke about the Digital Single Market, e-identify and e-inclusion. Commissioner Oettinger covered 5G, the Telecom Single Market and the prospects for European industry to embrace digitisation. The combination and complementary between them was remarkable. In addition, a press conference took place with Commissioner Oettinger and 9 global Chief Technology Officers to unveil the 5G vision of the 5G-PPP. This was a fantastic display of harmony between global companies from Europe, Asia and the USA, thanks to the EU initiative to convene them all in the 5G-PPP.

Essentially, the 5G vision is saying that 5G is not 4G+1, it is much more than wireless communication and rather a paradigm shift. It is about developing the digital nervous system of the whole economy and society, making industry able to use networks for their core business, and providing a diversity of capacity and usages, from billions of simple connected sensors sending SMS at the same time, to super high capacity able to download movies in seconds and to watch hologram video on the move, to superfast connectivity of less than 10 ms to connect cars and avoid collisions.

The other important event Netfutures, in Brussels 25-26 March. Very different event, organised by the Commission together with iMinds, in Brussels. However, the same energy could be felt about the great potential of network technologies and the role that Europe could play.

The Internet of Things (IoT), was a clear highlight. After some discussions with our industry partners, the Commissioner made his speech and officially launched the Alliance for internet of things innovation (AIOTI)

The session that followed on IoT and FIWARE gathered almost 500 participants and showed once more that links need to be made across silos and that there is potential for creating a European eco-system based on open platforms.

Robert Madelin closed the conferences with words of hope about the future, on the basis notably of the College debate about the Digital Single Market.

So from Barcelona to Brussels, it makes me feel like the journey is starting. Internet of Things, 5G, the digital single market. All come together to promote the digitisation of our economies, of our lives.

Follow us on Twitter:@NetTechEU and #5G !

Thibaut Kleiner's picture
Published in DSM blog