Setting the pace for 5G – the future of global digitisation

08 July 2016

Rupert Pearce

  • broadband

Yesterday I was proud that Inmarsat and the satellite industry took its rightful place by signing the European Commission’s 5G Manifesto; a key initiative to support European competitiveness, innovation, economic and societal growth. The manifesto lays the foundation for Europe to be at the vanguard of 5G deployment for the benefit of our governments, enterprises and citizens to enrich their operations, businesses and lives. The inclusion of satellite in 5G infrastructure will ensure reliable, broadcast capability coverage across ALL of Europe, remembering that 91% of the EU is rural and 56% of the EU population live there. In addition it will ensure that Europe can develop and deliver next generation technology in a globally harmonised band and be exceptionally well-placed to export its technology globally.


5G offers Europe an exciting opportunity – a paradigm shift towards the true, ubiquitous, reliable, connectivity of people and things – at home, on the move or in the air. Europe should have the ambition to shape 5G globally and support our digital industry in the work for global standards and global spectrum allocations. This will create a healthy environment for all operators to allow 5G to be more than just an upgrade from 4-5.

The European Commission’s 5G Manifesto intends to “foster effective interactions and collaboration” between operators and vertical sectors. This is essential. Europe needs to jumpstart the 5G reality, commercialising 5G as soon as possible, and maturing its business case to allow the evolution from 4G to balance the return on investment with new investment.

How? In three ways:

  1. By showcasing demonstrators and making investment in verticals that would otherwise be followers rather than early adopters.
  2. Driving fixed, mobile and satellite operators to work together to move from proof of concepts to concrete projects that contribute to integration and interoperability.
  3. Identify key industries ready for 5G commercialisation. The transport sector for example is ripe for exploiting the potential in connectivity from trucks, trains, to planes and ships. Automation of each of these modes of transport, increased safety requirements and the need for users to be always connected are major drivers for digitisation.

The 5G Manifesto has huge potential to create a roadmap where mobile and satellite operators can work together on concrete projects and contribute to integration and interoperability. The Commission are showing true vision in promoting heterogeneous networks and using the different strengths of different technologies to create a more pervasive, ubiquitous, reliable, secure and efficient 5G infrastructure in Europe. I’m hopeful that with close collaboration between operators and vertical sectors, we can take full advantage of the true scale of the European digital market.


About the author

rupert bioRupert Pearce joined Inmarsat in January 2005 as Group General Counsel and, from January 2009, additionally held the position of Senior Vice President, Inmarsat Enterprises. He became Chief Executive Officer in January 2012. Previously, Rupert worked for Atlas Venture, where he was a partner working with the firm’s European and US investment teams. He was previously also a partner at the international law firm Linklaters, where he spent 13 years specialising in corporate finance, M&A and private equity transactions. Rupert received an MA (First Class) in Modern History from Oxford University and won the 1995 Fullbright Fellowship in US securities law, studying at the Georgetown Law Center. He has been a visiting fellow of the Imperial College Business School, London, lecturing on the school’s Entrepreneurship programme, and is the co-author of Raising Venture Capital (Wiley).


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