European Union pins its hopes on super fast 5G to lift it out of a Covid-19 pandemic-induced recession and take the lead in internet-connected devices.

European Digital Economy Commissioner Margrethe Vestager looks on as she communicates on the EU's 5G plan in Brussels, Belgium on January 29, 2020.
European Digital Economy Commissioner Margrethe Vestager looks on as she communicates on the EU's 5G plan in Brussels, Belgium on January 29, 2020. (Reuters)

Europe needs to pump $355 billion (300 billion euros) into its telecoms infrastructure by 2025 if it wants to roll out super fast 5G across the 27-country bloc to boost economic growth and tap the potential of the technology, a report has said.

The study by consulting firm BCG, commissioned by telecoms lobbying group ETNO, comes as the European Union pins its hopes on 5G to lift it out of a Covid-19 pandemic-induced recession and take the lead in internet-connected devices.

But EU telecoms operators have been reluctant to invest in 5G networks, which could support smart factories and self-driving cars, because of the massive outlay, while they say plans to scale up via mergers to take on these costly projects have been stymied by tough EU antitrust rules.

"150 billion euros is still needed to achieve a full-5G scenario in Europe, while an additional 150 billion euros is required to finish upgrading fixed infrastructure to gigabit speeds," the report said.

Delays in auctioning of 5G spectrum – airwaves necessary for operators to start offering commercial 5G – due to governments shifting focus to counter the pandemic have also disappointed the industry.

READ MORE: 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory is dangerous fake nonsense, UK says

New ownership model

The study proposed several measures that governments and regulators could implement to boost the telecoms industry.

"One such step is pursuing new ownership models involving voluntary infrastructure sharing, which can allow faster roll-out, reduced overall environmental impact, and increased knowledge transfer among partners," it said.

Loosening rules to allow telecoms providers to cooperate and co-invest or to split infrastructure construction from telecommunications services businesses were also some of the suggestions.

The study also called for operators to be allowed to monetise data traffic on their networks to catch up with rivals such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech giants. 

READ MORE: Tech giants could be banned from EU market if they do not heed regulations

Source: Reuters