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    5G is crucial for the digital society, but challenging in its roll out

    5G is crucial for the digital society, but challenging in its roll out


New high-performance opportunities

Within a few years, the Netherlands will be able to use 5G. The main difference compared to 4G is higher speed and lower latency, which play a vital role in solutions that become a possibility in 5G. It will herald the arrival of completely new applications that have to achieve optimal performance at all times.

Denser deployment

Rolling out a 5G infrastructure is a much more complex operation than the previous 3G and 4G networks – and more expensive, since it requires a sizable expansion of mobile base stations and connecting links (over 8 times more than the current situation). This upgrade will require a much more densely-deployed network of masts and antennas.

Complex and expensive rollout

Roll-out would be a costly affair for individual operators. Not only would it be a major nuisance for the Dutch population if all operators were to excavate the streets for their own separate 5G networks, but it also takes too long before operators can get a return on their investments in the new generation of networks. The current time-consuming permit procedures take too long for a fast rollout. The current municipal tax on encroachments in, on or above public land, which is not harmonized in municipalities, represents an additional expense.

Delta Plan for a new generation of networks

5G is part of the new generation of networks. Making this new generation of networks available in our country as fast as possible will require close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders – including government agencies, energy grid companies, contractors, municipalities and mobile operators. A Delta Plan is essential to ensure that the Netherlands remains a pioneer in digitalization.

Testing frequencies 

In addition, market parties would like to get started on testing 5G applications. This will require the 3.5 GHz frequency, since this will be the international bandwidth standard for 5G. On an international scale, all parties in the chain (e.g. smartphone providers) will focus their innovation efforts on the 3.5 GHz frequency.

Applications based on 5G  

Smart mobility is an application that will become viable in the near future, in which vehicles will communicate with each other and with smart traffic facilities or operation centers that will achieve flawless performance remotely. That standard of quality requires a network that can transfer data within a fraction of a second. Options might also include a doctor that can perform remote surgery on someone using a robotic arm. Or semi-automated or fully self-driving vehicles that communicate with pedestrians, traffic lights and other vehicles via 5G. The new network will take the Internet of Things to the next level, allowing us to hook up billions of devices to online access. And the possibilities for entertainment are endless, including options for streaming high-quality video to virtual reality glasses.

Massive volumes of data

These new applications will use a huge amount of data. For instance, a fully automated guided vehicle will use approximately 4 TB or 4,000 GB per day. Achieving reliable connectivity for those volumes at high speeds and low latencies will require a much denser network with many more base stations – not just the large, visible masts that we know, but also the much smaller 5G infrastructure. We’ll also need an additional 150 special data centers to process all that data. And all of that needs to be connected to each other as well! It represents a much bigger job than the 4G rollout. At that point, it was still possible for all mobile providers to build their own network. It would be prohibitively inefficient to go down that road again.

Action Plan for Digital Connectivity

Eurofiber is positive about the Action Plan for Digital Connectivity, which the State Secretary for Economic Affairs recently submitted to the Dutch House of Representatives. It demonstrates ambition and serves as an incentive. This is what is needed, we need to pick up the ball from that. It creates an excellent foundation to guarantee a leading digital position in Europe for the Netherlands.

That is why EF considers the Action Plan Digital Connectivity a step in the right direction. Now it is key to take action and make connections with each other and create a Delta Plan.