25. 5G


5G is the next generation wireless network technology. This will be faster and able to handle more connected devices than the existing 4G LTE network. Key benefits of 5G are ultra low latency (~1ms vs. 100ms for 4G), speed (Higher than 1Gbps vs. 100Mbps for 4G) and connectivity (~1’000’000 devices / km2 vs. 100’000 for 4G). These developments are accompanied by disruptive technological choices opening up new possibilities:

  • New frequencies and smart antennas: capable of managing energy in point-to-point mode between users and radio relay (beamforming).
  • Virtualization technologies: distributed architecture allowing direct local processing of data for faster local actions (distributed intelligence).
  • Network slicing: management of different classes and types of services according to user needs.


Since 2022, all European countries have a commercial 5G service available at least in a part of the country. Close to 256’074 5G base stations are now active in the EU and approximately 72% of the EU’s population is covered by at least one 5G network

Challenges and opportunities for DSOs

  • Distributed Energy Resources (DER)/Flexibility: 5G could facilitate DER management connection by offering solutions to activate flexibilities on LV and MV networks.
  • Metering: 5G could enable remote, smart or real-time metering where Broadband over Power Line is off-limits.
  • Network management: 5G connected sensors to the distribution network could enhance advanced automation and control functions like Fault Location Isolation and Service Restoration. 5G could provide new solutions to set up differential protections for MV and LV lines.
  • Asset management: Sensors connected in 5G to network assets could help monitor health indexes for safety, preventive maintenance and prevent thefts. Combined with drones, 5G could facilitate component diagnosis.
  • Operation: 5G could facilitate remote crew supervision support and supervision on the field.

EDSO opinions and views

  • European DSOs usually rely on telecom operators and do not operate wide private telecom networks.
  • 2G and 3G shutdown could lead to faster implementation by DSOs of 5G-based solutions.
  • The decision of DSOs to use 5G to control critical assets will depend on guaranteed levels of reliability and resilience.
  • The energy impact of the 5G rollout has to be documented as DSOs try to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Specific attention to cybersecurity issues will be necessary since many patents on 5G are held by non-European players. Furthermore, 5G cybersecurity needs some significant improvements: secured routing points, real-time cybersecurity adapted to 5G speed, and unsecured connected assets.

Last update: 28 September 2023