BARCELONA: The European Union said Tuesday it will launch an action plan to develop 5G mobile networks which will massively speed up Internet connections, in an effort to avoid falling behind other regions.
"The Commission will work together with the industry to prepare a coordinated 5G action plan for Europe," EU Digital Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said at the Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile fair, in Barcelona.
This action plan should be adopted by the end of this year and it aims to involve telecom firms as well as major players from the automotive, energy, media and energy sectors, he added. Europe had led the competition in GSM technology -- the original standard for mobile networks -- in the 1990s, but fell behind the United States and Asia in the rollout of faster 4G connections.
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Businesses have repeatedly called on the EU to improve the quality of its mobile communications infrastructure, saying that inadequate networks hinder job creation and growth at a time when Europe is slowly pulling itself out of recession.
"We need to learn from our failure. We cannot afford being left behind in what the most important transformation of societies since the industrial revolution," the EU commissioner said.
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The putative 5G mobile network promises better connections to cope with the ever-increasing number of mobile internet users. The EU estimates a high-definition movie could be downloaded in six seconds with the new technology, up from six minutes with 4G.
The new 5G networks could open up a range of services by delivering data at faster speeds, enabling services such as remote surgery or driverless cars and allowing customers to experience video and virtual reality with ease.
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The International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency which works on interconnection among global carriers, said its member countries had approved a plan detailing how to harmonise standards for 5G, with the rollout expected for 2020.