Slow 5G growth could stifle Europe, Ericsson CEO warns

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Europe is in danger of falling behind Asia and the United States in 5G deployment, and without the new technology, there will be no efficiency gains or carbon emissions reductions, Börje Ekholm, CEO of Swedish telecoms multinational Ericsson, warned recently.

The head of the company described the European telecommunications market as “dysfunctional” because, in his opinion, over-regulation and slow, indefinite policy-making characterize the regulatory system.

Because of this, for example, the allocation of radio spectrums in Europe is the slowest in the world, while Asia and the United States are making good progress in this area, which means Europe may lag behind in competition despite loud political voices raising the alarm. He indicated that in part, in his view, European telecommunications infrastructure was not an attractive area for investment due to inadequate regulation.

However, the development of 5G technology could play a role not only in providing technological benefits but also in measures to curb climate change, Ericsson said in a telecommunications market report that fifth-generation mobile communications use electricity much more efficiently than its predecessors. Ericsson has also measured over the past few months how much more efficient 5G base stations are in terms of data transmission. According to a test with mobile operator Telefónica in Brazil and Spain, 5G consumes 90 percent less energy per data unit than 4G.

In addition, mobile networked smart devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and solutions supported by artificial intelligence can help many industries turn greener.

True, Ericsson’s calculations also showed that the entire telecommunications sector is responsible for barely 1.4 percent of global carbon emissions. However, through its impact on other sectors, notably manufacturing, agriculture and mobility, it could contribute to a 15 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. Global industries account for 32 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and Ericsson reports that more efficient solutions can already lead to significant carbon savings globally.

Examples of this include using network-connected sensors in agriculture or smart irrigation systems to help reduce agriculture water usage, which is estimated at 5 percent a year globally.

The company also has experience after turning its Texas plant into a smart factory. Networked environmental and consumption sensors, as well as intelligent remote control operation reduced the factory’s energy consumption and waste by a similar percentage

Title image: T-Mobile encourages people to ask WHY Verizon limits 5G to outdoors by launching a satirical “Verwhyzon” campaign on the streets of NYC, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (Stuart Ramson/AP Images for T-Mobile)

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