By Samuel Stolton | EURACTIV.com
Nov 18, 2020
This article is part of our special report Recovering with connectivity: a choice for Europe.
The European Commission has expressed concern that EU nations may fail to meet ‘legally-binding’ deadlines in the assignment of 5G frequency bands, further postponing the bloc’s development of next-generation telecommunications networks.
Speaking at the launch event for new telecommunications association GIGAEurope on Tuesday (17 November), Anthony Whelan, digital policy adviser to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, spoke of the executive’s frustration at the likely failure of certain member states to comply with timeframes set out in the 2018 Electronic Communications Code.
As part of the code, the EU has pledged to enhance the deployment of 5G networks by ensuring the availability of 5G radio spectrum before the end of this year.
5G ‘uncertainty’ in the EU
Auctions for the allocation of 5G frequencies across the 700 MHz, 3.6 GHz, and 26 GHz bands have since been taking part across the bloc, but have been beset by delays owing to the coronavirus pandemic, concerns over the security of next-generation telecommunications networks, and a heated misinformation campaign that has sought to spread falsities about 5G.
“Delays in this respect create uncertainty for businesses that have to make decisions on the rollout and it creates uncertainty for consumers because a certain number of provisions were adopted in their interest,” Whelan said.
“So, I think first and foremost those authorities have to explain themselves to their own communities, not just to faraway Brussels, as to why this isn’t happening.”
“Obviously we are disappointed when we hear or member states that are not able or have not, as it were, made themselves able to reach deadlines for 5G core bands. It’s something we pursue very actively with member states to try and move that along.”
Member states behind
Data from the EU’s 5G Observatory shows that countries including Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, and Slovenia are among those that have yet to formally and fully assign any of the frequencies across the 700 MHz, 3.6 GHz, and 26 GHz bands required for 5G deployment.
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