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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Neelie KROES

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

5G for the Connected Continent

GSMA Mobile World Summit

Barcelona, 24 February 2014

To add your comment to this speech, see the social version of the speech here

Thank you for inviting me to speak. I'm not going to keep you long. After all — I know that, in this community, speed matters!

Over the past decade or so, technology has transformed our world. We all know that. With better devices, faster connections, broader applications than ever.

This isn't just tech for its own sake. It is opening opportunities and changing lives. Providing a better future for the next generation growing up today. The generation that expects and relies on fast connections over pervasive networks.

Europe is still the world leader for these technologies. But there are risks on the horizon: posing significant threats to our global competitiveness.

And that is why I am fighting for a connected continent. Like by removing the barriers for our mobile networks. Today, you face 28 different spectrum systems in Europe. So it's harder to plan and bid across borders. That is letting you, the industry, down – it's letting our economy down – it's letting our citizens down. MEPs and national governments have the power to change that – I hope we can persuade them to take that step.

But this is a fast moving world. And to stay ahead, we have to look ahead. We must accelerate to lead on the next generation of services.

One year ago I launched a call for 5G: putting a record 700 million euros on the table, to jumpstart European research and innovation. And the telecoms industry responded: matching our investment by up to 5 times, with over 3 billion euros total for R&I. That's a win-win for all of us.

Of course we are not the only ones working on 5G. Fortunately! In South Korea, too, they have pledged a little over one billion euros for 5G. And I know we can achieve a lot through global cooperation and convergence. Making 5G ubiquitous and interoperable: so it works everywhere, for everyone.

So today I launch a challenge to you, Europe's 5G leaders, and to all the other regions of the world, from America to Asia. Let's find a global consensus on the scope of 5G, its main technological constituents, and the timetable for putting it in place. Let's work this out together. And let's work it out soon: by the end of 2015. So all our citizens can get the 5G boost as early as possible.

5G won't just be a bit faster, a bit higher capacity, or a linear progression from what we know today. The change will not be incremental, but exponential. 5G is the key to a new paradigm, to a connected society, to the Internet of Things. It will enable whole new fields of application and new solutions for society. From medical monitoring to smart cities to augmented reality. And integrating fixed and mobile. Meaning connectivity anytime anywhere, through any available network.

And let me assure all those who are still waiting for existing technology to reach them: 5G does not mean that we can do without 4G. Indeed, 5G will only be deployed on a large scale many years into the future; it needs 4G and 3G networks to get there. In fact it will also probably still need 2G networks: and WiFi too.

Last year, this topic was only found in discussion panels at conferences; today it is happening in the lab.

Now I hope it can move from the lab to the real world. And I am glad to have your support. To get it to every city, every hospital, into every car, every living room, every pocket. And soon. With European innovations leading the way.

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