5G: kick-off time at last…
At the latest Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, one topic completely overshadowed all the rest: 5G was arriving at last. And not only would it usher in a swath of innovations as every new generation does but, the predictions told us, 5G would actually usher in a new era. It would enable the advent of connected objects (machine-to-machine), it would abolish latency (or almost) thanks to the power of edge computing, and so opening the way for myriad applications across the board, from video games to more highly technical fields such as remote surgery. Finally, this new fifth generation would be a crucial asset in supporting and amplifying manufacturing and its smart factories of the future…
So soaring was the paean that one would be forgiven for being a little sceptical… And yet, all of the pieces are gradually falling into place. When it has reached full maturity (and broken its ties with 4G), the advent of 5G will mark a far more fundamental change than the arrival of 4G or 3G had been. And this is why, when setting the terms conditions for awarding these frequencies, Arcep took a significantly different approach to the previous frameworks.
If the technology is structure-giving, if it is a tool of economic development, it needs to irrigate the regions. Something that must be thought out and organised at the planning stage. This is why the coverage obligations included in the terms and conditions attached to licences to use 3.4-3.8 GHZ band frequencies are far greater than those put into place when launching previous mobile network generations… and are no doubt among the most ambitious in Europe, if not beyond. Arcep has also set ambitious targets for covering roadways and ensuring indoor coverage, to fully satisfy consumers’ true expectations, be they individuals or businesses.
Because 5G will only be a success if everyone is on board: this means that EMF exposure issues need to be resolved through dialogue, consultation and education. This may also mean that we will need to use 5G properly, responsibly, one might say greenly, as we become increasingly aware that the digital tech universe clearly needs to be concerned about its ecological footprint and how to control it.
So, yes, it is kick-off time for 5G… but this is only the beginning. Dare I paraphrase a former Prime Minister by saying that, “the road may be straight, but it has a steep slope”?
Emmanuel Gabla, Arcep Executive Board member
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