As became crystal clear during this week's Mobile World Congress, 5G is defining a new era of broadband and is coming our way fast. Many demos brought to life how 5G will enable a variety of new use cases including human-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication, while ensuring service flexibility and optimized operational costs. Overall, 5G networks will underpin and speed up the digitalization of multiple industries, bringing new opportunities many segments of the economy. Telecom operators should embark now on the path to 5G if they want to benefit sooner from new business opportunities.
5G trials are ongoing in various parts of the world and commercial deployments are expected to start in 2019, if not earlier. But to ensure timely deployments of 5G infrastructures and services, policy frameworks must be adapted and be '5G ready'. In this context, there are three priorities for policy makers:
1. Making more spectrum available Accelerating spectrum identification and allocation to mobile broadband is critical, as well as ensuring the appropriate rulings in those spectrum bands.
2. Modernizing rules to incentivize and facilitate the deployment of telecom infrastructure In this context, replicability of processes and simplification of installation regimes for small cells can help dramatically decrease deployment timelines and costs.
3. Ensuring new business models and services can flourish Here's where balanced net neutrality rules are critical, allowing 'quality of service' differentiation. While preserving the principles of the open internet, differentiating network traffic is important as users require higher speeds and lower latency connectivity for specific usages ('network slices'). In addition, cross border free flow of data is essential to incentivize and scale cloud based services. Regarding data-protection and security, a delicate balance must be found to effectively protect end-users while enabling new digital services.
We are at a critical moment in our industry, where stakeholders are redefining themselves and actively exploring new business models driven by digitalization. As such, policy work to foster digitalization is also needed beyond the telecom sector. This was the context of a study led last year by Nokia within the UN Broadband Commission, which analyzes the policy and regulatory readiness for digitalization of vertical sectors like transportation and health, and provides insightful recommendations to policy makers and the industry alike.
These are exciting times. But there is still work to do on the policy front! This is our call to action to policy makers to work together and to work fast so that we can all benefit from the opportunities 5G will bring, underpinning the ongoing digitalization that is making our world smarter.