5G Networks Promise More Innovation and Disruption — But They Promise More Regulatory Discussions, Too

5G Networks Promise More Innovation and Disruption — But They Promise More Regulatory Discussions, Too

On June 4 to 6, 2018, the 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit (“CTS 2018”) featured discussions on the rise of a new protagonist in the information domain — 5G wireless networks. The event provided scope for continuing the conversation on how to support 5G deployment and what the new technology will mean to entrepreneurs, innovators, the economy, and all Canadians. Here are some developments to watch as the process for setting 5G standards is underway.

All things smartened up

 5G is the next generation of wireless mobile networks. The speakers highlighted that 5G networks are primarily designed for increasing capacity and enhancing connectivity while operating at much lower latency values. These ultrafast 5G airwaves promise to connect cities in all levels through the sharing of information—as buildings, cars, people, and a myriad of devices will be able to communicate with each other. The new technology promises to further enhance the users’ experience with smart devices, smart cars, and smart homes. In addition, 5G networks will allow emerging technologies to operate at a much larger scale.

From connecting people to connecting things in real time

 For example, the panel on 5G networks remarked that, due to the myriad of new capabilities and disruptive applications made available using 5G wireless networks, virtually all industries will experience important changes in how they work and cooperate with one another. Industries will leverage real-time connectivity to the benefit of both consumers and businesses. New capabilities will allow segments of industries to experience real-time economic data, offering the potential to prompt the fourth industrial revolution. To enable all of these features, 5G network communications will increasingly rely on artificial intelligence (“AI”) and big data to build new applications and create more services. As a result, interested parties will have to be attentive as a new regulatory landscape may develop to accommodate the demands of this increased data sharing reality.

How does society become 5G ready?

 In addressing this question, speakers at CTS 2018 remarked that putting the new technology to use will require several regulatory and policy discussions. Among other challenges, there will be massive amounts of data that can be quickly collected, mobilized, and exchanged across 5G networks. In the commercial and government space, several jurisdictions have engaged in devising regulatory frameworks for the deployment of the new technology (see examples here and here).

Canadian policy makers know that this is an industry that needs investment as well as a modern regulatory landscape across municipal, provincial, and federal levels of government. For example, in his address at CTS 2018, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced that the Government of Canada will be launching two consultations  to support 5G deployment: the government is proposing to add an additional 1GHz of millimetre spectrum to support 5G and is beginning a consultation process in advance of the 3500 MHz auction.  Minister Bains also discussed an initiative through a Canada-Québec-Ontario partnership, the Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Innovation (“ENCQOR”), which he described as “a 5G test bed that will advance the development of 5G networking solutions and next-generation technologies and applications”.

Other countries, such as the United States, China, and South Korea are taking a great leap towards leadership in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure. In Canada, industry operators and other stakeholders are well positioned to develop relationships with different levels of the government with a view to speeding up the process of creating standards and laying out best practices for the operation of 5G networks.

Bottom line

5G networks promises innovation, disruption, as well as policy and regulatory discussions. Industry operators and other stakeholders should be attentive to the new opportunities arising from 5G networks, but they should also stay abreast of the impact the Canadian regulatory landscape may have in the industry — particularly by virtue of the challenges that may arise from the vastness amount of data that will be quickly collected, mobilized, and exchanged across 5G networks.


Bruna D. Kalinoski is a contributing editor for the IPilogue and holds an LLM from the Osgoode Professional Development Program at York University.