5G Networks and the Internet of Things: Innovation, Disruption, and Regulatory Discussions

The 2018 edition of the Canadian Telecom Summit (“CTS”) took place June 4-6, 2018 in Toronto. One of the most important topics covered was 5G wireless networks. The process of setting 5G standards is already underway.  CTS focused on three main developments in 5G that every stakeholder should watch for in the near future.

 

  1. “Smarter” everything

 The primary benefit of 5G network technology is the ability to deliver increased capacity and enhanced connectivity at lower latency values. Ultrafast 5G airwaves promise greater connectivity through sharing a wide gamut of useful information. From infrastructure, transportation, and automotive technology to rural connectivity, the new technology promises to foster the development of smarter devices, smarter cars, smarter homes, and smarter cities. Further, 5G network technology promises to create safer pathways for emerging technologies to operate effectively at a much larger scale while simultaneously combating threats to cybersecurity.

 

  1. Shifting Industrial Infrastructure

 New technological advances such as 5G and the Internet of Things (“IoT”) will shift industrial infrastructure from connecting people to connecting things. Virtually all industries will experience significant changes in how they work and cooperate with one another because of new capabilities and disruptive applications made available through 5G wireless networks.  Industries will leverage real time connectivity enabled by 5G technology to the benefit of both consumers and businesses through much faster transactions. New capabilities will allow segments of industries to experience real time economics via on demand services.  

5G network communications requires operators to heavily rely on big data, artificial intelligence, and engineering to create new applications and services. As a result, the regulation of data will become more important in future.  Stakeholders will have to watch out for regulatory guidance on the acceptable standards for scaling up the interchange of data for 5G networks.

 

  1. Policy and Regulatory discussions

The pathway to getting 5G ready involves several regulatory and policy challenges. Scalability and reliability are issues of concern for the innovators and operators of the new generation technology. Increasingly large number of connected devices will potentially require acceptable standards for the operation of 5G networks.

Several jurisdictions across the globe are devising a regulatory framework for the deployment of 5G technology. Nations such as the U.S., China, and South Korea are also vying for leadership in the manufacture and operation of 5G network infrastructure.

Canadian policy makers know that this is an industry that needs both investment and sensible regulatory frameworks at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels.  The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in his address to the audience during the CTS, indicated that the government will be launching two consultations that will support 5G deployment. He also highlighted an inaugural endeavour through a Canada-Quebec-Ontario partnership, known as the Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Quebec and Ontario for Research and Innovation, “ENCQOR”. This, according to the Minister, “is a 5G test bed that will advance the development of 5G networking solutions and next-generation technologies and applications”. Nonetheless, there is a lot yet to be done to ease the transition into 5G.

In terms of business opportunities, wireless providers, consortia of carriers binding together to build the network, the government, and other stakeholders can expect new opportunities with the first 5G networks set to launch in the near future. Further, stakeholders should get acquainted with the developments in the Canadian regulatory landscape and how they may impact data collection, mobilization, and sharing, as the domestic regulations in place may place several constraints on entities’ ability to manage information.

 

The Bottom line

5G Networks and IoT promise more innovation and disruption — but they promise more regulatory discussions, too. Stakeholders can expect new opportunities which may arise from 5G networks but they should also make efforts to get acquainted with the developments in the Canadian regulatory landscape and their potential impact.

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