Towards the successful deployment of 5G in Europe: What are the necessary policy and regulatory conditions?


Europe can expect to see the introduction of 5G around 2020. The stakes are high - a ubiquitous and high-capacity mobile network is a vital foundation for future economic growth.

However, the path to deployment of 5G is not straight. It represents a complex interplay between infrastructure equipment manufacturers, device makers, operators and end-users, as well as regulators and policy makers at national, regional and global levels, who have significant decisions to make.

In the light of this, CERRE has published a new report. Building on the lessons to be learned from 1G through 4G, the report’s authors, Dr Wolter Lemstra, Professor Martin Cave and Professor Marc Bourreau, analyse which policy and regulatory frameworks could successfully contribute to a successful roll-out of 5G in Europe.

In their report, the authors identify numerous challenges and trade-offs that stakeholders will have to balance as they steer their way towards 5G deployment. Those forks on the road take the form of a number of questions. Those include, among others, the following:

  • To what extent should the economic opportunities of 5G be pursued systematically by policy makers, rather than relying on the continuation of current market trends?
  • Linked to this, should public authorities rely on just the Electronic Communication Code or adopt a more pro-active policy and regulatory stance, including close market monitoring and possible intervention if market failure occurs?
  • How will incumbent mobile operators fare? Will the mass market of consumers remain as the core business, along with the expected margin pressure? Or will new markets for business services emerge, offering a higher willingness to pay and opening up additional revenue streams?
  • Will barriers to entry be lowered, allowing new players to enter the market, or will they remain high?

CERRE Director General, Professor Bruno Liebhaberg, says:

Europe cannot afford to be left behind in the global push towards 5G. However, reaping the potential benefits of this new technology requires an in-depth understanding of the challenges and decisions that lie ahead. This CERRE report, and the policy recommendations which conclude it, contribute to that understanding by framing the trade-offs, conflicts and policy questions which Europe will soon have to address.

Dr. Ir. Wolter Lemstra, Prof. Martin Cave & Prof. Marc Bourreau