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MWC16: Vertical approach to 5G is vital, says European Commission

The European Commission’s 5G Public-Private Partnership has set out its vision of how 5G will empower vertical industries in Europe

The European Commission’s 5G Public-Private Partnership (5GPPP) has published a whitepaper entitled Empowering Vertical Industries to set out key goals for the next few years as European mobile operators prepare for the roll-out of 5G.

In the research paper, the European Commission (EC) set out its main objective to deploy 5G for vertical markets in the European Union (EU) by 2020, with minimal latency, enhanced reliability, improved device density and higher terminal data rates its performance targets.

The report predicted 5G would transform networks into intelligent orchestration platforms, setting the stage for innovative business models by changing the relationship between suppliers, mobile network operators (MNOs) and verticals.

Indeed, it said, establishing vertical-use cases will be an early priority for the 5GPPP, and these cases should inform the standardisation process and the eventual auction of mobile spectrum in the European markets.

It singled out automotive, energy, health, manufacturing, media and transportation as key verticals that will demonstrate the most keenly observed use cases.

EC commissioner Günther Oettinger said: “Making 5G a reality in Europe by 2020 will be essential for the success of key vertical sectors like automotive, health and digital manufacturing. The white paper depicts innovative use cases from the most important vertical sectors and how the resulting requirements will shape the 5G system design.”

Some use cases explored included in healthcare, where 5GPPP said 5G could play a key role in helping cut costs of health service delivery by making more mobile services possible, such as personalised care, smart pharmaceuticals, and connected medical devices; or in media and entertainment, where it forecast benefits around adoption of ultra-high definition video, on-site live event experiences, user-generated content sharing, immersive media and virtual reality.

Overarching trends, such as the growth in the internet of things (IoT) will need to be taken into account across verticals. Notably, all the verticals cited by the 5GPPP’s report are expected to play a key role in the uptake of the IoT, the support of which is already being held up as a key underpinning for 5G.

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Plea for open networks

Speaking to Computer Weekly at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Mounir Ladki, president and CTO at Mycom OSI – a supplier of specialist software designed to measure and assure quality of service in the mobile and telecoms industry – said 5G needed to be a collaboration between verticals and industry.

Allowing mobile operators and telcos to decide standards on their own, he said, risked a situation where everything was done in their interests, as opposed to taking account of the unique needs of different industries.

“The network must become an open platform, otherwise 5G cannot be,” said Ladki. “Initiatives like 5GPPP are valuable, even if they are only European-centric. The idea of opening up and extending beyond just telcos is the right one.”

The whitepaper was put together by a number of stakeholders from industry and academia, including Atos, the BBC, Deutsche Telekom, Edinburgh Napier University, Kingston University, Nokia, Thales and Volkswagen.

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