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Policymakers Highlight Regulatory Challenges for 5G

The need for policy settings and regulatory frameworks to enable timely 5G development is acknowledged worldwide, as are the challanges.

Globally 5G is recognised as a key future aspect of advanced and advancing digital economies given its potential to drive productivity and connectivity in most sectors of the economy. With this recognition in mind many jurisdictions are developing early policy and regulatory considerations and strategies to support 5G.

As a leading mobile nation – with the unique challenge of vast geography and small concentrated population - Australia has leveraged the enabling capacity of the mobile ecosystem very well. So now as the 5G evolution agenda becomes clearer and more urgent the message is simple – Australia must keep up! The following article is one reflection of the growing global sentiment.

This story* by Tony Chan from CommsDay reports on a key conference that took place in Tokyo last week:

High profile policymakers from around the world highlighted the need to create regulatory certainty for 5G, while pointing to a need to go beyond obvious roles in global technology standardisation and spectrum harmonisation to adjacent disciplines and industry sectors.

Speaking at the 3rd Global 5G Event in Tokyo this week, the panel – made up of senior policymakers from the US, Europe and Asia – highlighted the increasing need to work outside their traditional milieu when it comes to 5G regulation.

According to European Commission DG Connect acting director for future net- works Pearse O’Donohue, regulators must back up their stated goals with well-defined 5G policies and regulatory frameworks that encourage industry investment and facilitate rollouts.

“In order to all them [i.e. operators and vendors] to play their role, it is important that we have a regulatory framework that is conducive to investment, that is conducive to innovation and also conducive to deployment,” O’Donohue said. “And for all of that to happen, the investment, it must be clear that there is a commitment, that spectrum will be allocated, that this is a standard that is global, so that those who invest in the technology, those deploying the technologies, can be sure that they are actually go- ing to have a stable investment environment.”

While 5G itself is still in the standardisation phase, O’Donohue already foresees additional obstacles arising from the proposed architectures.

“We have heard a few speakers already talking about very dense cells, dense array of antennas, that for example, in cities, particularly architectural heritage sites, can be challenging, when you need to look again at local planning laws, etc, things like that,” he said. “Also, with the same dense structure, you will need greater roll out of fibre, and that again presents local planning difficulties.”

US Federal Communications Commission engineering and technology chief Julius Peter Knapp echoed the sentiment, but pointed to the need for policy flexibility.

“Making sure that carriers can deploy sites quickly – tower siting – [has] certainly been an issue in the US,” Knapp said. “There are so many elements here that I think it is important to look at it holistically. I would never want to wager, which of the applications are going to be important, or take hold; whether virtual reality be embraced by consumers, will autonomous vehicles be closely tied to 5G. We can think technically and think those through but we need to provide the flexibility and the fabric for those things to actually take hold and then let consumers in the market and the industry determine.”

Industry Transformation

For China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the advent of 5G and its potential to transform traditional industries is the key driver for new policy.

“I think the key factor is the integration of 5G and other vertical industries. Actually, I think this is the biggest difference between 4G and 5G,” said MIIT high-tech department of science and technology deputy director Zhao Ce. “We are paying a lot of attention [to] the integration between 5G and vertical industries. For example, in connected vehicles and telematics, we have land and are constructing a lot of demonstration sites in China to promote applications in this area.”

One result of the integration with adjacent industries is that MIIT must now work with peers in other disciplines.

“In China, autonomous vehicles are not allowed to perform testing on the highway, but actually the industry has given us some good suggestions that they need to do test- ing on highways. This is just one example [where] we have to do some coordinative work between ministries,” Zhao said. “We are trying to set up a coordinating mechanism between the MIIT and the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transportation. We are going to publish standards for connected vehicles.”

5G Ecosystem

In a similar way, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is looking to cultivate cross industry collaboration by promoting a 5G ecosystem. According to MIC Telecommunications Bureau land mobile communications di- vision director Isao Sugino, the regulator’s blueprint for 5G consists of a business to business to end-user, or B2B2X, model.

In his opinion, the ‘B’ in the middle – the developers and service providers that bridge the gap between infrastructure operators and endusers – will be the key for the success of 5G.

“5G can provide all the quality that is required by the enduser, [but] some endusers may not realise what level they actually require. The service provider in the middle can help endusers identify what they need and make those requirements known to the 5G networks,” Sugino said. “With such a viewpoint, Japanese 5G trials are designed to be- come a good opportunity for raising up the ‘B’ in the centre.”


* Story by Tony Chan reprinted with the permission of CommsDay. First published 29 May 2017. For more information visit the Communications Day website

30 May 2017


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