EU Parliament and US Congress take steps to accelerate 5G legislation

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have taken steps to ensure legislation is suitable for the rollout of 5G networks, which is expected to start in 2019.

In two separate developments, the European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached provisional agreement on new telecoms and spectrum rules, while US congress will vote on whether to allow a 5G spectrum auction to take place later this year.

The EU’s deal sees a number of key measures, such as increased availability of spectrum by 2020 and 20 years investment predictability, agreed upon and builds on previous settlements for spectrum harmonisation, the elimination of cross-border interference and simplifying small cell regulations.

5G spectrum regulations

"We are laying the groundwork for the deployment of 5G across Europe. It is vital because many applications, from connected vehicles to smart cities and telemedicine, will not happen without first-class connectivity,” said Andrus Ansip, EU Commissioner for the Digital Single Market. “Let's now agree as soon as possible on other elements of the new EU telecoms rules that we proposed."

“With this political agreement, co-legislators set in stone the roadmap on spectrum for 5G that we put forward last October and which paves the way for the 5G gigabit society envisioned by the Commission in 2025. It is time to deliver,” added Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society.

“This can happen only if telecom, vertical industries and public authorities agree to join efforts and go in the same direction.”

However telecoms industry body ETNO has accused the EU of lacking ambition.

“5G is too important for Europe to accept a compromise falling short of the original ambition," said Lise Fuhr, ETNO general director. "Future licences needs to deliver increased certainty with respect to the status quo and a truly effective peer review system is essential to ensure the credibility of spectrum policy."

Meanwhile, in the US, Congress will take place this Tuesday. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai has indicated his desire to hold an auction of Millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum later this year.

This would see 28GHz bandwidth sold in November, but permission is needed to hold a second sale of 24GHz immediately after.

“This bipartisan, bicameral product puts consumers first and solidifies the nation’s critical telecommunications infrastructure, giving the U.S. a global edge in the race to 5G and improving internet services across the country,” declared Senators Greg Walden, Frank Pallone, John Thune and Bill Nelson in a statement.

The four men represent both Republicans and Democrats, an indication of the cross-party support the bill has won.

The US is engaged in a global race to become a leader in next generation networks, with Verizon and AT&T among the US operators committed to rolling out 5G either later this year or in 2019.

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.