Home5GFrance puts industrial transformation at the heart of ambitious 5G roadmap

France puts industrial transformation at the heart of ambitious 5G roadmap

The industrial internet-of-things (IoT) is at the heart of France’s new 5G roadmap, unveiled late yesterday by the French electronic communications and postal regulatory authority (Arcep). The new plan, presented by Arcep chair Sébastien Soriano, flanked by secretaries of state for economic affairs and digital affairs, Delphine Gény-Stephann and Mounir Mahjoubi, outlines an ambitious 2020-2025 launch schedule and a series of pilots of industrial 5G use cases and applications.

Arcep said in a statement the country will variously develop “disruptive applications in every sector” and “pioneer industrial 5G applications”. It also announced 11 new new trials in the Ile-de-France region, including three connected vehicle use cases.

These trials join a number of 5G pilots already in process or planning in Belfort, Bordeaux, Douai, Grenoble, Lannion, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse and Sophia-Antipolis.

“5G is strategically vital to France’s industry, the competitiveness of our economy, innovation and revitalised public services,” Arcep said in a statement.

The new schedule sets commercial rollout of 5G services in France in “at least one major city” by 2020, and 5G coverage along all the main transport routes by 2025. The French government and regulator will free-up, auction and allocate radio frequencies for 5G networks in the meantime to enable such targets.

Arcep’s work agenda also covers development of new uses, support for new infrastructure, and general communications between the French telecoms industry and the French people.

The French government made clear its 5G schedule is in line with actions at European level – “to meet the growing demand for connectivity, and to make European Union countries more competitive”.

The digitisation of industry has been a major narrative so far in France president Emmanuel Macron’s reign. Macron said at the end of March his government would invest €1.5 billion ($1.85 billion) in research into artificial intelligence (AI) in the period through to 2022. “AI is the next disruption. I want to be part of it; otherwise I will just be subjected to this disruption without creating jobs in this country,” he told Wired at the time.

Meanwhile, the European Commission called for €20 billion of new funds from European governments and private enterprises to stimulate the AI industry in the region. The Brexit-bound UK followed French and EU plans by announcing its own £1 billion joint investment to stimulate the country’s AI industry in April.

But most developed nations have made public declarations in recent months about the economic importance of AI-related trade. The French and UK governments signed a five-year accord earlier this month to work together to improve digital services through state-level collaboration on data and digital administration.

Curiously, the US is preceived to be behind other nations in terms of its industrial-digital strategy, with one seior industry commentator observing a “two-speed market” between the US on one side and Europea and Asia on the other. The US tech industry has been at the forefront of the AI movement, as it has all developments in digital technology in the last 30 years. Federal interventionism has been rare, especially in an industry that is increasingly propping up the wider economy.

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