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Europe advancing in 5G – new wave of projects launched to accelerate 5G take-up in vertical industries

Seven new research and innovation projects for a total amount of EUR 100 million of EU funding have been selected by the Commission to set up large-scale 5G validation trials for a broad range of vertical sectors. This will further reinforce Europe's capabilities in creating socio-economic value from 5G technologies.

5G trials projects: opening 5G to European vertical industries

The selected projects, running in the framework of the 5G Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP) co-led by the European Commission and industry, will explore the concrete applicability of 5G technologies to real-world use-cases across various vertical sectors. These include smart manufacturing, healthcare, energy, automotive, aviation, railway, logistics, food and agriculture, media and entertainment, public safety, smart cities, and tourism. The projects are expected to be launched in June this year.  In line with the industry's 5G trial roadmap that was adopted in 2018, they complement the three 5G cross-border corridor trial projects as well as trial projects selected from previous calls. Together this whole 5G trial projects portfolio is worth more than EUR 300 million of EU funding, and is expected to leverage more than EUR 1 billion of private investment in 5G vertical trials, reinforcing Europe's leading position in this field.


Is Europe ready for 5G?

The recent findings from the European 5G Observatory will be discussed in a stakeholder workshop in Brussels this week. Its latest report shows that European operators are neck-and-neck with other leading regions of the world as they prepare for the commercial launch of 5G this year. Europe is a world leader in 5G trial activities, which will develop new 5G business opportunities.

To illustrate this, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC19) in Barcelona earlier this year, the global mobile industry association GSMA awarded all three 5G Global Mobile Awards to European companies, acknowledging the importance of European players in preparing and promoting the deployment and take-up of 5G technologies.

However, the 5G Observatory also shows that significant work still needs to be done by Member States to make the necessary frequencies available.


Looking ahead – boosting 5G infrastructure investment

At the MWC19, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, encouraged key representatives of the mobile industry to boost investment in 5G technologies in Europe with a particular focus on vertical industries.

The Commission representatives, together with top decision-makers from the mobile sector, decided to cooperate and jointly invest in strategic areas with a view to developing 5G-enabled lead markets in Europe, such as industry 4.0, mobility and health. A particular focus has been set on Connected and Automated Mobility, given the industrial opportunities and potential to drastically reduce accidents, CO2 emissions, and traffic congestion on roads across Europe.

With these strategic opportunities in mind, the Commission and the mobile sector have agreed to define a joint Strategic Deployment Agenda for 5G-enabled connected and automated mobility. This initiative will build on the high-level process facilitated by the Commission, which led to the creation of the European Automotive Telecom Alliance (EATA). A network of 5G cross-border corridors are identified by EU countries and will serve for large-scale experimentation and early deployment of 5G for connected and automated mobility.

The Strategic Deployment Agenda will be instrumental to reach the objectives of the Commission’s 5G Action Plan and the economic and societal benefits identified in its 2018 Connected and Automated Mobility Strategy. Once other vertical ecosystems emerge, based on the existing and new vertical trial projects under the 5G-PPP, for example, the Strategic Deployment Agenda can be extended to other verticals.

This agenda should help all stakeholders, Member States and the Commission, to develop a common understanding of the 5G deployment objectives, service requirements (such as high capacity and reliability), and possible cooperation models when jointly investing in these pan-European 5G corridors. It should serve as the basis for a planned public-private partnership on Smart Networks and Services. In general, this partnership should develop the next wave of technologies beyond 5G and in parallel continue to mainstream the digital transformation of vertical sectors through connectivity. In this context, its particular role will be to coordinate a 'pipeline' of projects for the optimum use of public funding for 5G corridors, as proposed in the renewed CEF Digital programme for 2021-2027.


Background: Overview of the seven new 5G trial projects

5G SMART: will explore 5G for smart manufacturing. The project trials will test the most advanced 5G-integrated manufacturing applications, such as industrial robotics and machine vision-based remote operations, and will fully characterise spectrum use and electromagnetic compatibility issues for 5G in factory environments.

5GDrones: plans to trial several Unmanned Aerial Vehicle use-cases covering enhanced Mobile Broadband, Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications, and massive Machine Type Communications, notably for public safety monitoring and disaster relief operations.

5G-HEART: will focus on vertical use-cases of healthcare, transport and aquaculture. For example, it will validate pillcams for automatic detection in screening of colon cancer; it will also validate a broad range of automotive services such as assisted driving and platooning.

5GROWTH: aims to empower vertical industries such as Industry 4.0, Transportation, and Energy with Artificial Intelligence-driven automated 5G end-to-end solutions.

5G-SOLUTIONS: aims to validate 5G provision of prominent industry verticals with ubiquitous access to a wide range of services. This will be achieved through field trials across five domains: Factories of the Future, Smart Energy, Smart Cities, Smart Ports, and Media & Entertainment.

5G-TOURS: will provide close-to-commercial services for tourists, citizens and patients in three different cities. The fundamental feature of the project concept is the dynamic use of the network to seamlessly provide different types of services, such as augmented reality assisted surgery and smart-mobility enabled navigation, each adapted to the specific needs of individual use cases.

5G-VICTORI: will conduct large-scale trials for advanced vertical use-case verification, focusing on Transportation, Energy, Media and Factories of the Future and cross-vertical use-cases. For example, provisioning of mission critical services for railway systems and of energy metering services for high-voltage and low voltage distributions grids.


The webpage for the 5G trial projects is available here, along with the other ongoing 5G-PPP phase 3 projects.

For more information on 5G and Future Connectivity Systems, please click here.