A number of French technology companies are gearing up to compete with their Asian counterparts in the development of next generation ultra-fast broadband networks, and plan to participate in a European Union (EU)-endorsed 5G standardisation process, which is expected to launch in November 2014. According to a report by Les Echos, a consortium – Club France – led by Orange France, and also including Alcatel-Lucent, Thales, and Sequans eBlink, is reportedly looking into partnering with other, as yet unspecified, European players in order to qualify for EU research funding. Philippe Keryer, head of Alcatel-Lucent, said: ‘It [the standardisation process] is [designed] to decide what will be the backbone of the broadband network of tomorrow. We have created [Club France] to allow our country to play the same role for 5G as it did for 2G.’
Meanwhile, Asian equipment vendors, led by South Korea-based Samsung and Huawei of China, have earmarked investments of up to USD600 million for the development of 5G technology by 2018. Elsewhere, Japanese mobile operator NTT DOCOMO went a step further in May 2014 by revealing that it will conduct experimental trials of what it deems to be ‘5G’ technology in conjunction with six equipment vendors, namely: Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia and Samsung. The parallel trials will seek to establish the potential of the next-generation technology to exploit frequency bands above 6GHz and increase access network capacity per unit. NTT DOCOMO will begin indoor trials at its Research and Development (R&D) Centre in Yokosuka, which is located in the Kanagawa Prefecture, later this year, with outdoor field trials planned for 2015. Key findings and achievements will be shared with research institutes to contribute towards 5G standardisation, which is expected to commence from 2016.