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Europe is falling behind on the scheduled deployment of 5G. In 2016, the European Commission instructed each member state to auction all 5G frequency bands by 2021. A vast majority failed to meet the deadline.

Ookla, network analyst and developer of speedtest.net, analyzed the status of 5G in thirty European member states. Nearly every member state is behind on the 5G Action Plan, a schedule proposed by the European Commission.

The schedule allows the entire European Union to be covered by 5G by 2030. The condition is that member states stick to the plan. Only five of the 30 member states surveyed are on track.

High, low and medium frequency bands should have been auctioned a year ago. Only Germany, Greece, Finland, Croatia and Slovenia met the deadline. The rest are missing one or two bands. Some member states, including Belgium, have yet to auction any bands.

Providers can only deploy their networks once the frequency bands are distributed. Belgium, one of the five countries with the largest backlog, will auction in June. Until then, Belgian providers are investing in temporary measures to provide 5G. Not every investment contributes to the permanent network, which further delays the final rollout.

The fastest networks

Against all odds, European coverage performs well on the global stage. Swiss providers cover nearly 35 percent of the national population with temporary frequency bands. This puts Switzerland ahead of Japan, China and Saudi Arabia. The Netherlands covers nearly 50 percent, the second-best score in the world. The United States peaks at number one.

Saudi Arabia and South Korea’s 5G networks are by far the fastest (500 Mbps download). Bulgaria is the European leader with a speed of 400 Mbps. Most other member states, including Switzerland and the Netherlands, have to make do with less than 200 Mbps.