EU Member States - Rollout
While market players are responsible for the secure rollout of 5G, the European Member States are, as part of their sovereign national competences, responsible for implementing EU policies and enforcing national security.
The Member States have coordinated a time frame for investment and the launch of new 5G technology. Nevertheless, each country has its own strategy, its own timetable, and its own testbeds.
Spain for example was one of the first European countries to deploy 5G. By autumn 2020, all four national mobile operators had launched their first 5G services. However, the country’s rollout is far from being functional. Coverage is around 30%, with frequency bands from 3.4 to 3.8 GHz. According to the '5G Readiness Index', Spain leads in terms of 5G pilot projects.
The same index labels Estonia as the 'most ready Eastern European country' – even though spectrum auctions were delayed multiple times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and legal actions by one of the largest communication operators. Estonia currently serves as a testbed for 5G automotive use cases through a 3-year trial that started in September 2020.
Belgium, on the other hand, has seen a delay in the rollout of 5G due to regulatory and political difficulties. Conflict between different layers of government, along with public health concerns, has led to repeated delays in the auctioning of 5G spectrum.