18 May 2020

5G inquiry report released (no, it’s not about 5G’s responsibility for COVID!...)

This article was written by Georgia MacKenzie and Kate Creighton-Selvay

As COVID-19 continues to heighten focus on 5G – and the opportunities and challenges it represents – the Government this week released its report on the first parliamentary inquiry into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia. 

The report highlights the value of coordination across government and industry, the importance of education to stem the tide of 5G misinformation, and provides insights on how 5G will transform life for Australian consumers and businesses. It’s essential reading for the telecommunications industry, as well as all sectors that will be impacted by 5G – from agriculture and mining to entertainment, and all organisations considering the role of Internet of Things solutions in their operations.

Key conclusions of the report include:

  • Change is coming
    • 5G will change the nature of mobile network design, placement and integration
  • Coordination is critical
    • The Federal Government should facilitate ongoing discussions, including about managing aging equipment

    • The State Government should facilitate discussions on road safety, and transport infrastructure
  • There is a focus on the regions
    • Carriers should conduct trials in regional and remote areas

    • There should be mobile infrastructure sharing – as is occurring overseas
  • Australia should manufacture 5G infrastructure
    • Government should find ways to encourage on-shore manufacturing

    • Manufacturing partnerships with Canada, New Zealand, UK and USA should be considered

    • Government should establish a 5G R&D Innovation Fund
  • Community (mis)understanding needs to be addressed
    • Community confidence needs to be fostered through better community engagement and communications strategies

    • ARPANSA should consult with community about electromagnetic radiation and safety

    • Increased resourcing is needed
  • Australia needs to upskill its workforce
    • Department of Communications and Department of Education and Training should review 5G accreditation and courses to create industry-ready graduates

    • Government should increase ICT sector apprenticeships
  • Regulation and regulatory decision-making need to be revisited
    • Government should review network and data security legislative arrangements

    • Existing regulation of low impact facilities and co-location should be reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose in a 5G environment

    • Competing interests, industries and priorities will need to be carefully balanced to allocate the finite resource, spectrum, that is critical for 5G deployment

For organisations still grappling with the basics of 5G, the report also provides a useful summary of the technology, its deployment and its use cases.

As Dr David Gillespie (the Chair of the Committee conducting the inquiry) notes in the report: “We are at a point where enough is known about … 5G technology to allow businesses of all sizes, communities, governments and individuals to imagine new use cases and new opportunities and help them come into being”.  If you would like to discuss what 5G technology means for your organisation – and the potential impact of the Committee’s recommendations – we’d love to hear from you.

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