5G cities

The European Commission’s action plan of September 2016 confirmed by the EU Council in December 2017 targets the commercial rollout of 5G in at least one major city in every MS by the end of 2020.

Specific cities in Europe announced their plans to become 5G Trial Cities, at the forefront of 5G trials and pilots. At the end of 2017, seventeen Trial Cities had been announced: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bari, Berlin, Espoo, L’Aquila, London, Madrid, Malaga, Matera, Milan, Oulu, Patras, Prato, Stockholm, Tallinn and Turin. In France, nine major regional cities were selected for 5G trials (Bordeaux, Nantes, Grenoble, Douai, Le Havre, Saint-Etienne, Lille, Montpellier and Lyon) in 2018. Tests took place and are still taking place in other cities (including Belfort, Le Vaudreuil/Rouen, Lannion/Rennes Marseille, Nantes, Nice/Sophia-Antipolis, Saint Etienne and Toulouse) alongside with eleven cities in Paris’s suburbs (including Paris, Châtillon, Linas-Monthléry and Saclay). As at August 2018, three additional cities committed themselves to the target: Aveiro, Bristol and Ghent. A non-exhaustive list of 5G Trials Cities include Amsterdam, Aveiro, Barcelona, Bari, Berlin, Bristol, Espoo, Ghent, L’Aquila, London, Madrid, Malaga, Matera, Milan, Oulu, Patras, Prato, Stockholm, Tallinn and Turin.

These trial cities aim to provide support for a variety of technology and service demonstrations carried out during the 5G trialling phase and provide valuable vertical use cases, especially for Smart City concept to validate the trials in real user environments. When compared to the private sector, public entities such as cities usually have different interests even in similar use cases focusing e.g. on eHealth, energy, transport, smart buildings, or digital service portals. In all of these domains, shared technology platforms, free access, open data and interfaces as well as the maximal involvement of local ecosystems and residents are common priorities.


For example, the city of Barcelona is determined to transcend the “Smart City” concept and deploy a programme that integrates and coordinates local initiatives related to a truly digital transformation of the services the city offers to its citizens. Barcelona has just launched the 5GBarcelona strategy towards facilitating the deployment of trials and pilots across the city and so, becoming a 5G smart city. 5GBarcelona will have 5 nodes, to which more will be added until reaching a deployment of 20% of the territory in 2020. Barcelona contributes to the 5GMed project starting in September 2020. It will demonstrate advanced cross-border trials of 5G application scenarios in Cooperative Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM) and Future Railway Mobile Communications System services (FRMCS) between Figueres (Spain) and Perpignan (France).


The city of Berlin aims to stipulate research and development of 5G technologies, and one of the city’s main strategic interests is to enable an innovation-stipulating environment and technology infrastructure, which can eventually provide the 5G experience to the public on the streets of Berlin. 5G was activated first in The Innovation Cluster 5G Berlin has kept on testing 5G possibilities for private networks and for industrials in 2020.


Patras has been selected by the Greek Ministry of Digital Policy as a 5G pilot city. The City of Patras is aiming at organising, transforming and finally extending its current digital infrastructure into an open platform that will interconnect 5G related technologies. This digital transformation is performed in order to address e-administration issues related to the City of Patras while enhancing the quality of life of its citizens. Patras belongs to the three 5G-VINNI facility sites in Europe. The Patras 5G facility is operated by the Network and Management Architecture  Group,  of the  Department of  Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the University of Patras in Greece. It is part of the 5G PPP facilities ecosystem. The Patras area is seen as a playground for vertical industries.


  • The city of Oulu is challenged to modernize the city governance and processes in the framework of constrained public expenditure and demand for deploying disruptive technologies enabling digitization, automation and robotisation in public service delivery. One of the main strategic priorities is to enhance innovation led economic growth and competitiveness of the local economy and for companies to create employment outcomes for the people of Oulu, in order to ensure sustainable and healthy living environment. Arranging broadband connectivity (eMBB) and providing local free 5G network services network for mobile IoT based experiments is the first step to adopt the 5G technologies for citizens and city administration. City also targets people mobility related service trials and offers e.g. traffic-light data as open data for service development…


City of Bristol as one of the main UK 5G Hub sites, together with University of Bristol, aims especially to demonstrate the 5G technologies for public. The Bristol target has been mainly to show the potential of 5G in shaping the future of social interaction, entertainment, urban planning and public safety. The similar events such as arranged in March 2018, are planned for the near future. The promotional video from the event is also available. Bristol alongside Bath will be the home of enhanced visual experiences for tourists using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in major local attractions as part of the 5G Smart Tourism project which was awarded GBP5 million in March 2018. In May 2020, the University of Bristol contributed to provide immersive media services to travellers arriving at Bristol and live streaming application. Earlier in March 2020, the city of Bristol showcased Virtual Reality a network of cameras able to detect faces. It also performed demonstrations in the Aston Gate Stadium related to programmable network, differentiation between slices, resilience using slices and Massive MIMO. In May 2020, the University of Bristol started to contribute to 5G- VICTORI’ digital innovative mobility use case focusing the provision of immersive media services and live streaming applications.

5G key European cities

5G IA and IDATE DigiWorld estimate that there were 558 at least partially-enable 5G cities at the end of December 2020 (in EU-27 plus UK) including 5G cities identified by Member States in the COCOM survey (questionnaire on action 1 of the 5G Action Plan for Europe) and identified in the 5G pan-European trials roadmap version 4.0 [5]. Enabled cities include pilot 5G cities and 5G-live cities.

The table below summarizes the key cities in EU involved in 5G activities related to 5G private trials and pilots, 5G National Programmes (incl. platforms), 5G test corridors, 5G Infrastructure PPP (vertical trials and pilots and platforms). All the content is based on publicly available information and does not claim to be exhaustive.

5G key cities

Source: 5G-IA & IDATE DigiWorld

Internationally, the most advanced cities in terms of 5G implementation include:


  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Charlotte
  • Dallas
  • Kalamazoo
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • New York
  • Oklahoma City
  • Phoenix
  • Seattle
  • Waco


  • Tokyo
  • Nagasaki
  • Okinawa
  • Yokohama

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