Ericsson CEO: Europe needs to speed up 5G deployments or miss out

Ericsson CEO and President Börje Ekholm called on European regulators to act quickly to remove barriers to deploying 5G if the region wants to remain competitive against the U.S. and China.

Ekholm, speaking at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris this week, said the U.S. and China see 5G as “critical national infrastructure and the backbone of digitalizing society.”

RELATED: European telcos seek more 5G-friendly terms for 26 GHz band

“We can’t afford to have our European entrepreneurs and enterprises innovate on an old and aging infrastructure. 5G must be seen as a critical national infrastructure—just as vital as trains or ports or airports,” he said.

Ekholm said Europe lacks a concerted regulatory effort for facilitating what he calls 5G digitalization. “It’s up to countries to decide if they want to be part of the revolution that 5G is going to bring,” he said.

In his keynote address at the conference, Ekholm called for 5G spectrum auctions to be coordinated across the region, and offer spectrum at “reasonable prices” to help accelerate the rollout of 5G infrastructure. He said spectrum licenses should also be overhauled, to remove investment uncertainty.

RELATED: European Commission weighs in on 5G security

Addressing security in 5G networks, Ekholm noted that no network can be 100% secure. “Given the complexity of future architecture, and future networks, the security in 5G will not only depend on the equipment in the networks. It will also depend on the security solutions deployed, and the operating parameters of the network—basically decisions the operator will make,” he said. Ekholm also noted that “end-to-end 5G security was actually factored-in when 5G was designed.”