The European Union (EU) on Monday announced that it has signed a key agreement with China on the "fifth generation" of telecommunications systems, or 5G, a move aimed to seek an edge in the global digital competitiveness.
"Both parties are committed to reciprocity and openness in terms of access to 5G networks research funding, market access as well as in membership of Chinese and EU 5G associations," the EU said in a press release.
Signed at Monday's EU-China high level economic and trade dialogue in Beijing, the agreement was described by the EU as a "milestone" in the global race to develop 5G networks.
"It's a crucial step in making 5G a success," said Gunther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for the digital economy and society. "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."
5G is expected to be commercially available from 2020 and China is viewed to be a likely major player of 5G development and also potentially the world's largest market for the new technologies, products and services.
Under the agreement, the EU and China will seek to reach a global understanding, by the end of 2015, on the concept, basic functionalities, key technologies and time plan for 5G.
They also decided to cooperate on joint research actions and to promote bilateral participation of enterprises in 5G research projects. Meanwhile, they will work to facilitate the identification of the most promising radio frequency bands to meet the new spectrum requirements for 5G.
Besides, the possibilities will be jointly explored on services and applications for 5G, especially in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT) which connects traditional devices, including home appliances, to the Internet.
Commenting that China will have a substantial role in establishing a 5G global standard, the EU said both sides will jointly promote global standardization for 5G.
"Under this agreement, EU companies, particularly the EU telecoms and ICT (Information and communications technology) industry are likely to have easier access to the Chinese market," the press release said.
"In particular, European companies will be able to access and participate in China's publicly funded 5G research, development and innovation initiatives on the same terms as Chinese companies currently participate in the EU's 5G activities."
The EU stressed that the agreement is "very timely" as the 5G standardization race will start already in 2016 together with discussions on spectrum requirements for 5G that should culminate during the World Radio Conference 2019.
The EU's executive body, the European Commission, is investing 700 million euros ($782 million) through the Horizon 2020 Programme to support research and innovation in 5G and has signed similar agreements with the Republic of Korea and Japan in recent months.
(Xinhua News Agency September 28, 2015)