The FarrPoint website uses cookies to improve your on-site experience. Find out more about cookies.
Key takeways from the European 5G conference 2023 in Brussels 


Key takeways from the European 5G conference 2023 in Brussels 

FarrPoint’s CEO Andrew Muir has been spending time at the European 5G conference in Brussels over the last couple of days, exploring where we have got to with 5G.

Some of the highlights from the two day event include:

Over the two days of this 5G event (13-14 of March 2023), there we a lot of interesting discussions and views on 5G. We're sharing some of the points that we found interesting.

Pearse O’Donohue, Director at Future Networks Directorate of DG CONNECT, kicked things off with review of current position and the importance of the EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act to help reduce the barriers to rollout and increase the 72% population coverage of 5G to the target 100% by 2030.

This will include streamlining the use of assets, an activity we’re seeing a lot of in the UK. An example of 24 months average time for wireless permits was cited at a later panel session. These delays can account for 10-20% of the cost of site deployment.

Prof. K Masselos talked about the need to move away from macro sites to smaller, low-power mm-wave micro and picocells. This gives performance and reduced energy costs but a proliferation of sites, but perhaps not as we’ve traditionally known them. Infrastructure sharing is going to be more important for these mmWave dense deployments

Cecil Ameil from the GSOA spoke of the role of satellite and its role in hybrid solutions to extend coverage, a point Prof William Webb came back to at a later session

There was much talk about the challenges facing the rollout of 5G and the lack of demand, coupled with rising costs which make further deployments challenging.

We have enhanced mobile broadband (but who cares?) but nothing on the other elements of 5G which were touted as bringing change and benefits. Several times the cost of spectrum was brought up as hampering investment capabilities of mobile operators and that some change is needed from the traditional auction process. Together with declining revenues for the last 10 years, this doesn’t present a good investment position.

The fair contribution argument came up a number of times with an interesting thought that increased demand now seems to be seen as a negative thing and not something to be sought. Perhaps an overall negative view of this plea by operators. A question posed on this which sums it up nicely - “what problem are we trying to solve?”

An interesting panel on sustainability with a particularly interesting contribution from Lara Connaughton from Comreg who have been leading some of the thinking in this area. Confirming our own work which shows a lack of standardised data available from industry and flagging a BEREC consultation out now which we will be looking at.

Perhaps one of my favourite sessions was a straight talking Professor William Webb which stated that 5G has failed technically and commercially.

Presenter at the 5G event

Operator stock prices have been significantly lagging the stock market, the demand for the services touted for 5G is not there and the whole concept has been over promised, a mistake we should try and learn from with 6G.

5G has done nothing about coverage or supporting IoT. 6G must move away from a bunch of performance numbers and address coverage with the combination of Wi-Fi, satellite and other NTNs, have lower energy consumption and use smarter cells nearer to the handsets - back to the microcell comment from earlier.

So perhaps 6G will sort out some of the challenges with 5G, there is clearly much more to discuss!

All in all a great event and a good time in Brussels, including some excellent mussels!

mussels in brussels

If you have any question about Andrew's experience from this conference, get in touch.

Find out more

Connectivity is important. It drives business and society, bringing communities and commerce together. That's why we use our insight and experience to connect people and business.