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EU signs agreement with China to research 5G

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The European Union has broadened its 5G research project with Asian countries to include China, after it signed a partnership agreement.

The multi-pronged agreement will involve the EU and China outlining the concept, functionalities, technology and roadmap for 5G by the end of this year.

Both will explore the potential for joint research projects, promote standardisation of the technology through the likes of 3GPP and the International Telecommunication Union, identify the key frequency bands for 5G and work together on 5G services and applications, particularly within the Internet of Things.

The agreement was signed by Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, and Miao Wei, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology at today's EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Beijing.

Oettinger said: "5G will be the backbone of our digital economies and societies worldwide. This is why we strongly support and seek a global consensus and cooperation on 5G. 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. It's a crucial step in making 5G a success."

[Read more: European telcos continue to look at the future in Asia]

The declaration builds upon a partnership signed in May between the European Union and Japan, and a 2014 partnership with South Korea.

Operators and vendors have also embarked on a wealth of different 5G collaboration projects. In the past month alone, Ericsson has signed a deal with South Korea's LG Uplus to research 5G and also extended the remit of its Europe-wide trials.