5G is set to be a gamechanger, but recent developments in international policies and local regulations have caused concern.

Some recent international policies may pose challenges to the development and quick maturation of 5G networks. How could businesses manage these geopolitical issues? For some insights, DigiconAsia asked Colin Bannon, Chief Technology Officer for BT’s Global Division.

DigiconAsia: What are some recent international policies that pose challenges to 5G networks? And how could businesses manage these geopolitical issues?

Bannon: The most important aspect pertaining to the implementation of 5G is having robust plans in place overseeing 5G spectrum management and execution on a national level. As such, enterprises should first address local concerns and ensure they comply with local laws and regulations ahead of any deployment of their 5G services.

Looking at current regulations and legislature in relation to data management, having a global presence is an advantage, so this favors the big players. Such players have established relationships with local policy makers and industry experts globally to have greater lead times to ensure compliance and regulatory alignment with relevant regulations in each jurisdiction.

DigiconAsia: The commercial viability of 5G deployment must take into account security. What difference does 5G offer in this regard?

Bannon: Firms need to think about security as part of the very fabric of their business models and tailor their cyber security strategies to their unique needs as there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

In the near future, once 5G has been widely deployed, we will likely see a hybrid model where 5G is used in conjunction with 4G and 3G. As such, businesses should not solely focus on security on a 5G level, but also ensure that security is overlaid for the specific networking requirements of their business.

Businesses will also need to minimize the ‘hackability’ of their systems and increase resilience towards attacks by testing their cybersecurity measures through a variety of scenarios.

DigiconAsia: What are some best practices on how 5G can be deployed to benefit businesses?

Bannon: In 2019, the Singapore government allocated S$40 million in grants for 5G trials to allow different industries to co-collaborate and share best practices until the end of June 2020, underscoring the fact that 5G implementations hold great potential on a national level.

Determining best practices will take some time after 5G is fully deployed, but I have observed some initial success in trial projects with our partners in the shipping industry where 5G has led to improvements in the day-to-day activities of health and safety inspectors in ports, allowing them to monitor projects that they are inspecting in real-time and utilize augmented reality (AR) for training and display purposes.

Further exciting projects in Singapore, enabled by 5G due to its lower latency and high bandwidth capabilities: SMART transportation, Electronic Road Pricing 2.0 (Satellite tracking), SMART lamp posts and other AR-based services can also be realized.

DigiconAsia: How important is collaboration among telcos, governments and local enterprises to jointly develop 5G applications and solutions? How is BT playing a role in this aspect?

Bannon: Collaboration is absolutely key. One of BT’s strengths is our ability to cater to clients across 180 countries, which we can deliver by tapping into local expertise through our established partner network, as well as working closely with local legislators in order to ensure compliance with relevant requirements Deployment of a 5G network on a national level is no small feat, and close collaboration with industry peers and other stakeholders can help achieve it.