Ericsson President and CEO, Borje Ekholm, has called on European regulators to act now on 5G, or risk losing out on the seismic economic benefits of the next-generation technology.
Ericsson’s CEO made the remarks during a keynote presentation at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris, but it’s not the first time Ekholm has been critical of Europe on 5G.
Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, he slammed European regulators for their failure to create the regulatory environment required for 5G to flourish on the continent.
His warnings have appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, but he voiced his growing concern at the lack of action being taken by Europe, and said that if they don’t act quickly, Europe will fall far behind markets such as the US and China, in relation to 5G technology.
Ericsson has established itself as one of the leading vendors globally for 5G, and has already secured major contracts with US telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon.
Ekholm said, “It’s time to speed up 5G in Europe. We can’t afford to have our European entrepreneurs and enterprises innovate on an old and aging infrastructure. 5G must be seen as a critical national infrastructures – just as vital as trains or ports or airports.”
Ericsson’s CEO expressed his frustration that decisionmakers were slow to recognise that 5G is going to be a digital economic backbone, citing that this mindset was already prevalent in almost every other key global market.
He also highlighted how Europe had adopted the same approach when 4G was launched, and failed to act on the technology, while the US and Asia pressed ahead, resulting in Europe falling three-to-four years behind.
He added, “The US and China sees 5G as a critical national infrastructure and the backbone of digitalizing society. It was no coincidence that big 4G winners such as Alibaba, Netflix, and Tencent – emerged from the U.S. and China, and not Europe. It’s up to countries to decide if they want to be part of the revolution that 5G is going to bring.”
Ekholm concluded by saying that 5G spectrum must be made available in a coordinated fashion and at reasonable prices to catalyze the roll-out of digital infrastructure.
“Today a spectrum auction is deemed a success if it raises the maximum amount of money for the tax income of the government,” he said, “But the reality is that we need to factor in all the other benefits you would get from rapidly building out the telecom infrastructure.”
Ekholm also called for action on the length of spectrum licenses, saying the current approach in Europe results in investment uncertainty among operators in the latter part of a licensing period.