Thursday, 14 May 2020 10:03

House panel asks carriers to look at 5G for rural, regional areas Featured

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House panel asks carriers to look at 5G for rural, regional areas Image by ADMC from Pixabay

A parliamentary committee that conducted an inquiry into 5G in Australia has recommended that carriers look at sharing multi-user infrastructure so that rural and regional consumers benefit from 5G services without too much delay.

In its report, submitted to Parliament on Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts also called for improving competition in future spectrum auctions, talks to manage aging equipment, and an investigation of ways in which 5G infrastructure could be made in Australia.

"This may be done initially via the Department of Industry, Science and Technology working with Australian telecommunications and related industry partners to examine how Australia could actively participate in the manufacture of components and equipment for use in the rollout of 5G networks - and that manufacturing partnerships be considered with Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States," the panel said.

Australia banned the world's biggest 5G provider Huawei Technologies and another Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, from tendering for the 5G rollout in August 2018, claiming that they would be a security risk. No proof has yet been provided to back up this claim.

The plans of one telco, TPG Telecom, were thrown into chaos by this move as the company had used Huawei technology in the past and had already spent millions on upgrades when the ban was announced. The fallout of this was that TPG merged with Vodafone Hutchison Australia.

As there are only three companies that can supply end-to-end 5G solutions — Huawei, Sweden's Ericsson and Finland's Nokia — there has been tremendous pressure on the other two companies to meet demand. Despite American pressure, Huawei has now concluded about 90 deals for 5G rollouts.

In view of the ban, the panel also recommended that the government look afresh at laws around network and data security for supplies of 5G equipment.

Given that the committee attracted a huge number of submissions arguing against the rollout of 5G on the alleged ground of adverse health effects, the panel asked the he Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency to "implement a suitable mechanism to consult with members of the community regarding the safe levels of electromagnetic radiation".

The coronavirus pandemic has affected 5G rollouts around the world, with one of the few countries to move ahead being China. Thus, the hype around the technology has also died down.

Apple is yet to bring to market a 5G device and when it does so that will be a major factor in moving things forward. Even then, 5G will finally take off only when models that take advantage of the standalone 5G New Radio specs are launched.

But for that to happen, the rollout of 5G needs to be near its end. Else there will be no network of which to take advantage.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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