Saturday, December 4, 2021

5G: the new piece of the digital puzzle

Isabel Ornelas, Managing Associate at VdA-Vieira de Almeida

The fifth generation of mobile network technology (5G) is unavoidable in an increasingly technological society and open to novelty in an ever more digital world.

Not by coincidence 5G is a hot topic for governments, operators, investors, economic agents and consumers: 5G brings added value to communication between people, enabling communications services with greater speed and capacity, smaller latency and faster download speed – which translates, for example, into faster transmission of a data volume, 100 times more than the current, almost instantly, and connection of up to 1 million devices per km2.

But 5G does not stop here, in communication between people. The Internet of Things finds here a fast, efficient and comprehensive ecosystem, both for the public sector (for example transportation, postal sector, healthcare, education, public administration) and for the private sector, promoting new products and services – for example self-driving cars, healthcare, financial and security service platforms, industry and the manufacturing sector.

5G is, above all (and most of all), enhancer of economic and business growth, consumer convenience and social cohesion.

5G requires coordination between technology, government macro-strategy and law. Companies that have not prepared for 5G in advance, with a holistic and well-oiled compliance strategy that takes into account the entire digital ecosystem – for example, cybersecurity, data protection, electronic transaction regime and general regime of legal responsibility – will be much more vulnerable, and certainly much less prepared, for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

In 5G, and without prejudice to the legislation applicable to each sector of activity, the Government has the first word in this matter. Accordingly, in February 2020, Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 7-A / 2020 was approved, approving the strategy and timing of 5G (“Government Strategy”).

The Government Strategy defined technical, operational (stating that it is up to ANACOM to manage the spectrum allocation procedure for 5G) and strategic goals (for example, the timetable for its implementation in municipalities, hospitals and healthcare centres, universities, industrial parks, international airports, railway lines and military installations).

Following this Strategy, ANACOM published, in February, a draft regulation of the auction, a process that ended in the final Regulation no. 987-A / 2020, of November 5th.

Despite the challenge to this Auction when it was already in progress (ANACOM planned to issue 5G licenses in the first quarter), one thing is certain: 5G is undeniable, inevitable… and a must.

Companies must prepare themselves, adapting commercial strategies, preparing teams and ensuring full legal compliance, in order to take full advantage of 5G and do what the market can do best – hit the ground running.

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