Dutch telecom firm Altice’s Portuguese division is partnering with Huawei in an attempt to make Portugal the European 5G leader.

According to Altice Portugal’s CEO, Alexandre Fonseca, the work that the two companies have done together means that Portugal may be one of the first countries to implement 5G.

Speaking after a demonstration of a new Huawei router with a top speed of 1.5 gigabytes per second, the Altice exec said that he expects 5G to be used commercially in Portugal either next year or by 2020.

“I believe that the Portuguese market will be one of the first globally to be able to use this (5G) technology,” Fonseca said. Despite this, because of “various questions [which] need answers, such as investment versus profitability of the business,” he argued that consumers are unlikely to have access to 5G until 2021 or 2022.

Altice and Portugal

The development of 5G technology and networks is very important as the need to quickly transfer large amounts of data becomes more important, particularly with the advent of the Internet of Things.

That means that the first countries to develop a 5G ecosystem will have a significant competitive advantage in bringing businesses in that rely on that transfer of data. Vodafone is beginning testing in the ten largest cities in the UK later his year, while Italy’s AGCOM will begin auctioning frequencies mobile frequencies in September.

Portugal has an existing dense fibre network, making it a good place to develop a 5G environment. The country has a history of leading Europe and the world in technology innovation, with the world’s first prepaid mobile phones launched in the country.

In terms of the wider economic situation in Portugal, despite suffering a similar Euro crisis to Greece and Italy earlier in the 2010s, the job market is now relatively strong. The resurging strength of the country’s economy combined with technological advances such as 5G could put it in a position of strength going forward.