Mobile networks across Europe are proving a critical backbone amid this pandemic. Cellular, fixed broadband and wireless technologies are all essential for helping businesses of all sizes keep things running remotely. They also allow us to check in regularly with family members from afar and to catch-up with friends for coffee or drinks, albeit virtually. Many telecoms providers have recognised that their services are proving an essential lifeline now more than ever, with operators across Europe providing free data to their customers during this moment of crisis.
Cellular networks that make such services possible are underpinned by technology that emerged from a lengthy and collaborative development process driven to a great extent by inventive European companies. This collaboration was key to developing the connectivity solutions we are relying on more than ever today, and it will be key for enabling future innovation to bring us even closer together. ICT standardisation efforts such as this one are at the heart of creating network solutions that can keep our society running, even under pressure. Safeguarding and strengthening our key digital infrastructures - as well as enabling the continuous development of the underlying technology - will also be crucial as Europe and its industry emerge from the crisis.
We all hope that Europe and the world will emerge as soon as possible from the ongoing crisis caused by COVID-19. Yet even once lockdown measures are lifted, things will not spring back to normal right away. The human and economic impact of the crisis are likely to be felt for some time. Emphasising the need for Europe to ‘bounce forward’ and not ‘bounce back’, European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen has already laid out plans for the bloc’s economic recovery, which highlighted the central role that innovation and investment will play in restarting the economy and shifting towards “a more resilient, green and digital Europe.”
Supporting digital innovation, investment and infrastructure had already been outlined as a priority within the EU’s Digital Strategy, which specifically called out extensive 5G and future 6G networks as being essential. With 5G subscriptions expected to exceed 2 billion by 2025, this is an ever more pressing priority.
None of us can predict the future. But we can learn from the past. Recent events have emphasised more than ever before that ubiquitous connectivity, underpinned by pioneering innovation, is a must, not a nice-to-have, for ensuring the wellbeing of European citizens, businesses and societies as a whole. In this spirit, European leaders are expected to recognise next generation mobile communication as one of the key drivers of Europe’s digital transformation as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. Such recognition should also aim to preserve industry-led standardisation efforts to develop this technology – which will lay the foundation of a more connected, sustainable society.
Everyone at Ericsson, from our award-winning research teams who make key contributions to 5G development, to our field engineers who keep the networks running 24/7, remains committed to delivering new technologies that will shape tomorrow’s world. The technology being developed now will directly impact how we live, work and interact for years to come – and we know it can help Europe emerge more resilient from this crisis.