5G could roll out this year, Nokia CEO predicts, but Europe lags behind

The first commercial 5G network could launch earlier than anticipated at the end of this year, according to Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri (pictured).

Speaking in Barcelona prior to MWC, he said that networks in America and China are gearing up to launch 5G “as early” as late 2018 or early 2019.

“5G is happening fast, even faster than we, or anyone expected,” he said. “Of course things will vary by country, there is a neck-and-neck race between the US and China to see who will be first to deploy in a large way.”

He added that the US needed to be “more aggressive” on spectrum and make at least 100MHz available per operator in the 3-4GHz range.

“This should be an urgent priority for policy makers in the US” he said.

But these countries will be “well ahead of pretty much every other part of the world”.

“Parts of Europe will move as well, particularly the Nordics, but beyond that I would expect much of Europe to lag the lead countries,” Suri belives.

He predicted that the first European 5G networks would probably not be installed until the latter half of next year.

“I just do not see the capital for large-scale 5G rollout in Europe just yet.”

Suri blamed this on the large number of networks available to consumers on the continent which is driving down mobile data subscription costs.

“5G is not just 4G-plus,” he added. “It is a complete redesign of the network architecture. Whether you look at capacity and latency and slicing and speed, 5G is a massive step beyond where we are today. That performance will open a world of possibilities for consumers for businesses for everyone.

“The first 5G rollouts will be driven by the consumer business case, so devices running 4k and 8k video as well as VR.

“That’s where the first action will take place. The second will be industrial applications, remote VR, factory automation, precision medicine, 5G ambulances.”

Towards the end of the presentation, Suri predicted that social issues relating to technology would ramp up over the next year, in particular concerns over job losses from industrial automation.

“The aggregate productivity benefits will be massive and positive for society but the risks of income disparity and the inevitable backlash will grow.

“Policy makers will have to start to take on this topic and will have to look at radical long term solutions like universal income.”

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