5G is coming — slowly and hazily — and, having been a leader in 3G but a follower in 4G, Europe wants to be back at the forefront this time. But if that happens, it won’t get there alone: on Monday, the European Commission revealed a “landmark” agreement with South Korea regarding 5G’s development.
Under this strategic cooperation deal, Europe and South Korea — the home of major phone manufacturers Samsung and LG — will “work towards a global definition of 5G”, which should please those who ache at the mobile industry’s abuse of the still-nebulous term. They will also try to use the same spectrum for 5G and hew to other shared standards.
The Europeans and the Koreans will also work together on cloud and internet-of-things research, which are subjects that are pretty tightly tied with 5G. After all, mobile networks are starting to move into the cloud, and 5G will need to be optimized for all those connected sensors that lie on the horizon.
According to digital commissioner Neelie Kroes:
“5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognise this. This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardisation. Today’s declaration signals our commitment to being global digital leaders.”
Rival development efforts include those of China’s Huawei, Japan’s NTT Docomo, the U.S.’s Intel, and a thousand marketing professionals who are a lot more interested in the incremental value of the “5G” brand than they are in the technology it will one day represent.