Minister Fifield Unwired.JPG

Minister Acknowledges 5G Significance

Minister for Communications notes the economy-wide significance of 5G and the mobile industry

The sound of Government Ministers talking about their portfolios with enthusiasm and vigour is always welcome, and typically bodes well for stakeholders. Even more positive is when the language of planned policy reform is matched with a commitment to timely implementation.

Within this context, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, the Minister for Communications and the Arts, delivered a noteworthy speech at a major gathering in Sydney where 5G was one of several key themes being teased out.

The Unwired Revolution conference held by CommsDay in Sydney on 20 July in Sydney was a key forum for Minister Fifield to acknowledge the 5G journey, and explicitly note the economy-wide significance of the mobile telecommunications industry and associated technologies, including the Internet of Things.

AMTA CEO Chris Althaus kicked-off the conference with an industry-wide perspective covering key developments and drivers shaping the mobile telecommunications industry, however the Minister subsequently followed up with some pertinent and astute comments mindful of the audience.

A sample from Minister Fifield’s speech indicates his awareness of the industry’s foremost concerns, especially in relation to spectrum, network deployment, and of course the timeliness of policy reform.

In the Minister’s own words the following quotes will be of direct interest to AMTA members and the broader telecommunications industry.

“Unwired Revolution' is a fitting name for today's conference, because I believe that the imminent arrival of 5G mobile technology will be a truly revolutionary event in the telecommunications industry. In fact, the arrival of 5G may well be an inflection point not just for the telecoms sector, but for the entire Australian economy.”

“5G appears poised to be that revolutionary change, as a combination of extremely low-latency and high-bandwidth applications takes the burgeoning 'internet of things' to a new level. And for Australia, this represents an unprecedented opportunity. There is no country better positioned to harness the opportunities of 5G.”

“But with 5G, a significant change is coming that will impact government, consumers, the telecoms industry, and the broader economy. It will allow for new services that will benefit all Australians, in fields such as health, education, automotive and agriculture. The technology also holds enormous scope for emergency services systems, which could benefit from greater mobile capabilities when it comes to responding to natural disasters.”

On the Internet of Things ...

“5G will also foster greater uptake of Internet of Things applications thanks to lower latencies and greater bandwidths, and help us build the smart homes and cities of the future, which will in turn lead to the emergence of new businesses, services and jobs. With the number of connected 'things' expected to reach 20.8 billion worldwide by 2020[4], this could provide the spark for new hi-tech manufacturing businesses in Australia.”

On policy reform ...

“Which brings me to my second point - what the Government is doing to ensure that the promise of 5G can become reality.  We are working hard to modernise the policy and legislative framework which will support the early uptake of 5G in Australia. The Government should ensure that there are no unnecessary roadblocks for carriers seeking to deploy 5G networks; and to create a policy and regulatory environment that ensures that our competitive mobile market continues to flourish.”

On spectrum ...

“One area of Government responsibility which will be key to the success of 5G is spectrum reform. Spectrum is a critical enabler of Australia's current and future communications infrastructure. The Government is committed to reform to ensure that the regulatory framework governing access to spectrum remains fit-for-purpose.”

On network deployment ...

“But there is more on the Government's agenda than just spectrum reform, substantial as it is. 5G will require a radical change to the way mobile networks are designed and deployed if they are to deliver revolutionary new services. 5G will require additional infrastructure in new forms, including smaller cells and more densely-located antennas, which could be placed on lamp-posts or traffic lights.”

On regional benefit and smart agriculture ...

“5G is not just about cities—the technology is also going to be a game-changer for rural and regional Australia. Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash is a huge advocate for innovation in smart agriculture. Hi-tech farms use mobile networks to open farm gates, remotely activate water and feeding systems, and control autonomous machinery. The arrival of 5G will provide a further boost for these kinds of applications.”

Finishing his speech, the Minister made it clear that his Department:  "... will work closely with industry, key experts and other Commonwealth departments to best inform government decisions in this important field. I want to ensure that 5G is a success so that all areas of the economy will benefit."

AMTA will continue to work closely with Government and other relevant stakeholders to help ensure that the benefits and value-added services associated with 5G are achieved in a timely and streamlined manner across sectors, industries and communities.

The full transcript of Minister Fifield's speech can be viewed here.

24 July 2017






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