The EU will form a 5G Action Plan by the end of this year, in order to ensure it capitalises on the opportunities of the new mobile technology and does not repeat the "failure" of 4G, European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Gunther Oettinger announced at Mobile World Congress, according Telecompaper. He met with EU telecommunications companies last month to discuss specifically what Europe can do to improve the prospect for an early 5G deployment and said the suggestion for a coordinated effort to accelerate 5G deployment in Europe was "unanimously welcomed". As a result, the European Commission will work together with industry to prepare a coordinated 5G Action Plan for Europe. The plan should be adopted by the end of this year, he said, adding that the plan will reflect the interests of the telecom sector, as well as other industries expected to benefit from the enhanced connectivity provided by 5G and the Internet of Things, such as the automotive, health, manufacturing, energy, media and public sectors. 
Oettinger called for a focused plan, targeting "not more than five or six areas where we can jointly make a difference on the basis of large scale cooperation". The EC will solicit input by the summer, before formulating the final plan. The plan is expected to include an agreed calendar for commercial deployment of 5G and planning the necessary intermediate steps; a strategy to involve the vertical industries together with the telecommunications sector, including identifying synergies, a standardisation process and joint investments in infrastructure; incentives for fibre investment, which will be needed for 5G backhaul; concrete proposals to adapt spectrum management; and measures to ensure the next EU telecom regulatory framework will be fit for 5G.
The proposal comes amid concerns the EU is falling behind in mobile technology. After leading the standardisation of GSM and UMTS, it has lagged in the deployment of 4G, according to Oettinger, a situation blamed in part on a lack of coordination of the spectrum bands to be used. In a presentation at MWC on connected cars, Oettinger recalled the 5G public-private partnership announced at MWC 2013 that has led to numerous 5G research projects underway in the EU. "However, it is not enough simply to develop technology: 4G technology was made in Europe but first deployed in Asia and the US," the commissioner said. The EC will use its Digital Single Market strategy to try to develop support for investment in 5G, looking both at telecom regulation, standards and infrastructure incentives as well as involving key industrial players. 
The EC and the 5G Public-Private Partnership (5GPPP) also released a white paper at MWC, outlining how the manufacturing, health, energy, automotive, media and entertainment sectors could use 5G to digitise their business models and what performance targets 5G should deliver for them to adopt the technology. 5GPPP participants such as Volkswagen, Volvo, Peugeot, ERTICO, ABB, SES, Bosch and the European Broadcasting Union contributed to the paper, identifying potential uses for their respective sectors and cross-sector requirements for 5G networks. The EC will use this as the basis for international technical discussions on standardisation and spectrum for 5G.
The EC's announcement was welcomed in a statement from industry groups Digital Europe, the GSMA and ETNO. Calling 5G "vital for Europe's success", they outlined four key policy challenges to realising the benefits of the technology. These are ensuring regulation such as the new net neutrality rules does not limit network and services innovation; improving the investment climate for fixed and mobile networks with a significant simplification in the current rules and incentives; greater spectrum harmonisation; and further efforts in the 5G-PPP at standardisation, including greater coordination with industry sectors such as automotive, health and utilities to integrate the technology in the wider economy.