The EU has announced it will invest €18 million (£15.65 million) into research to develop next generation 4G mobile networks from January next year.
The next generation networks, known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), promise to offer mobile internet speeds of up to a hundred times faster than current 3G networks.
In Europe, LTE is currently being trialled by mobile operators in Finland, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK and is expected to be commercially available in Sweden and Norway in the first half of 2010.
EU Commissioner for Telecoms and Media Viviane Reding (pictured) said: “With LTE technologies, Europe’s research ‘know-how’ will continue to set the tone for the development of mobile services and devices around the globe, just as we did in the past decades with the GSM standard.
“LTE technologies will turn mobile phones into powerful mobile computers. Millions of new users will get ultra high-speed internet access on their portable devices, wherever they are. This will create tremendous opportunities and plenty of space for growing the digital economy.”
LTE is said to be able to boost the capacities of network operators, enabling them to provide faster mobile broadband to more users at lower prices. It is also said to use radio spectrum more efficiently, enabling mobile networks to benefit from the “digital dividend” and use the frequencies freed by the switchover from analogue to digital TV.
Signals travel further than with current GSM technology and reduce the number of antenna sites needed to achieve the same network coverage, thereby bringing mobile broadband to less populated regions
By 2013, mobile networks worldwide are expected to invest nearly €6 billion, according to market analysts.