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EIB finds Europe lagging behind in 5G competition; bank also warned the process needs to be accelerated

DUBLIN: The European Investment Bank (EIB) has found that Europe is lagging behind in terms of rapidly advancing information technology. EIB also warns that Europe needs to accelerate its 5G technology approach.

Coincidentally, the report came on the same day that the European Union announced a €900 million investment in a new public-private partnership to boost 5G deployment and 6G research.

The fifth generation mobile technology allows faster data transfer than 4G and greater traffic. It enables more devices to connect and ‘talk’ to each other. Advanced 5G technology can power self-driving cars, remote surgeries and factories, and holographic communications.

Far behind in financial aid

The study reveals that Europe lags behind the US and China in funding 5G technology. Growth-stage funding for startups developing 5G applications are limited between €4.6bn and €6.6bn a year in early. “This gap could represent a major challenge for the evolution of 5G in Europe, and poses the risk of Europe being left behind in the race for 5G leadership,” said the joint EIB-European Commission report.

The report also blames the financial gap on the risk aversion of private and public investors and the lack of understanding of 5G technologies.

There are a lot of tech hubs in the European Union compared to the US. The study points out that San Francisco and New York are the cities of investors. But in the European Union, startups are scattered across 15 countries, including Ireland, which are listed as ‘medtech’ and ‘hardware’ hub.

“In the European VC [venture capital] market, most fund managers focus on a single country or region, rather than the whole continent. For that reason, they remain relatively small and struggle to gain the scale necessary to attract long-term financial investors,” the report says.

Ireland and 5G: Airspan is coming too

Three major mobile providers in the country, including Three Ireland, launched 5G offers last year. Three Ireland has moved from Chinese tech giant Huawei to Sweden’s Ericsson, as a result of geopolitical tensions.

The study also highlights that Airspan, a US mobile network provider, is the new challenger for major mobile providers in Ireland. In 2017, the company won a bid for a 15-year licence on Ireland’s 3.6 GHz spectrum.

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