Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm spoke at the Viva Technology conference of the need for Europe to stop playing ‘catch up’ and take a lead in 5G.

Ekholm first addressed the myth that Ericsson is behind in 5G technology and rollout. He notes Ericsson’s technology is already live with multiple operators in the US and Korea, and with Swisscom in Europe.

“It’s impossible to be behind in 5G when there is no-one in front of us,” boasts Ekholm.

Ekholm claims the delay in Europe is due to regulatory policies over anything else. He goes on to say Europe is behind in 4G when compared to the US and China, let alone 5G.

“When 4G was introduced in Europe, there was a prolonged discussion about use cases. Meanwhile, China and the US raced ahead to build out 4G infrastructure; providing young and new companies with unprecedented infrastructure for innovation on a global scale.”

Early leadership enabled Chinese and American companies like Netflix, Facebook, Tencent, and Alibaba to secure their places as industry juggernauts after capitalising on 4G’s opportunities.

“Having lacked that same digital infrastructure, it is equally no surprise that Europe has a much more limited role on the world tech stage,” Ekholm states.

As the CEO of one of the world’s largest telecoms vendors, it makes sense to increase demand – but his comments aren’t unsubstantiated.

No-one can truly predict what use cases will come of 5G at this point. We can theorise on things such as remote surgery, real-time VR, and other exciting possibilities, but Europe risks falling behind for another generation without the vital infrastructure.

“5G and digitalisation must be viewed as a critical part of European national infrastructures – every bit as vital as trains and roads. The US and China already do so.”

“Europe, the original leader in mobility, needs to get back in the competitive technology race – and fast. It’s innovators, businesses, industries, and citizens deserve nothing less. Europe has played ‘catch-up’ for long enough.”

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