The European Union (EU) has announced plans to team up with China to boost the development of 5G, with a goal of having the high-speed mobile internet service available by 2020.
The agreement was made at the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Beijing, at which Günther Oettinger, European commissioner in charge of the digital economy and society, and Miao Wei, Chinese minister of industry and information technology, signed the joint declaration.
"5G will be the backbone of our digital economies and societies worldwide. This is why we strongly support and seek a global consensus and cooperation on 5G," said Oettinger.
"With today's signature with China, the EU has now teamed up with the most important Asian partners in a global race to make 5G a reality by 2020. It's a crucial step in making 5G a success."
The partnership will see the two factions develop a global understanding by the end of 2015 on the concept, basic functionalities, technologies and deployment plan for 5G.
This will involve looking at the potential of carrying out joint research and access to 5G development funding, as well as sharing membership of EU and Chinese 5G associations.
The agreement will also see China and the EU work jointly on promoting a global standard for 5G to support the work being carried out by existing organisations such as the International Telecommunication Union.
They will cooperate in facilitating the identification of radio frequency bands most suitable for the spectrum requirements of providing 5G.
A particular area of focus will be the Internet of Things, where 5G has been touted as a key technology in facilitating networks of connected devices and applications.
The partnership builds on similar 5G development agreements that the EU has with South Korea and Japan. It has been prompted by the need to have high-speed mobile networks to deal with the increasing amounts of mobile internet traffic, which is expected to be 30 times higher in 2020 than in 2010.
The European Commission is championing the agreement as significant, given China's potential to be the world's largest market for 5G technologies, products and services.
With the agreement in place, the Commission noted that EU companies are likely to have easier access to the Chinese market, allowing them to participate in China's publically funded 5G research.
The fifth generation of wireless networks could be the telecoms technology to further galvanise the use of mobile internet and devices connected to it, particularly given the speeds of 1Tbps that the University of Surrey has managed to achieve with 5G.
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