Belgrade-Sofia-Thessaloniki - the Expected 5G Highway of the Balkans

Currently, there is no highway that connects Belgrade, Sofia, and Thessaloniki but this did not stop Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria to sign an agreement for the creation of a 5G-network along the track. The idea is to introduce self-driving vehicles and reduce traffic. 

The 5G technology is something that is going to be actively used starting this year in countries like Japan and South Korea. It is considered the spine of various technologies such as autonomous vehicles. During tests, the company Huawei managed to reach 20gbps cell throughput - an absolute record. 

The Deputy Minister of Education Ivan Dimov explained that this is more than just signing an agreement. He reminded that the government's plan for its Presidency of the EC was to improve the digital connectivity on the Balkans. It indeed seems like a step in the right direction. But the 5G Highway isn't Bulgaria's only effort to join the European scientific front. Bulgaria has now joined the initiative for a mutual European approach to Artificial Intelligence and the partnership for the development of blockchain technology. The idea of the joint initiative on A.I is the EU's attempt to catch up with the USA and China, and to also set some moral and ethical standards to this type of technology. 

The highway of the future.

Although a major portion of the physical roads is missing, the three Balkan countries are brave and do not shy away from this bold initiative. Other countries have also signed agreements among themselves for 5G highways. For instance, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria have signed a mutual project - so have Portugal and Spain. 

The frequencies needed for the 5G network will be available in 2020, according to an EU-agreement. Transport companies have still to show (at least publicly) interest towards the initiative. It is exactly freight forwarders and logistics companies that will benefit from this infrastructural innovation. It is believed that the 5G highway between Italy and Austria will lead to a significant drop in traffic caused by trucks - if freight companies decide to use autonomous technology to do the job, that is. 

But how is it going to work on the Balkans? Currently, the auction for a builder of the Sofia - Kalotina speedway is still on-going, however, the track is supposed to be ready by 2020. The auction for the Krupnik - Kresna track still hasn't begun and yet the road is expected to be ready by 2023. This agreement between the three Balkan countries seems to be the product of Bulgaria's ambitions during its EC Presidency. The country has put the connectivity between the Balkan countries among its top priorities which cannot be deemed as a bad decision. 

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Vasil Manev

Vasil Manev is a student in Computer Science and an aspiring columnist, studying in Heidelberg, Germany.

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