In the midst of the pandemic crisis and ongoing efforts to mitigate its economic and social consequences, a significant technological transition is underway which is expected to initially transform the broadband market, and in the longer term to have a horizontal impact on many sectors of the economy. 5G networks are expected to play a key role in improving the capabilities of the current telecom status. This also means the introduction of new services and applications to citizens and businesses that were not available until now. This is important, as the services to be developed on the 5G platforms are expected to boost growth. Simply put, 5-lane highways have no intrinsic value without the right vehicles that can make use of this infrastructure. This in turn means that the role of entrepreneurship is crucial in meeting these prospects. We therefore expect a broad ecosystem of business activities to be activated in the direction of developing these services.
Already numerous studies at the international level have assessed the different scenarios of the economic contribution of 5G networks. It has been indicated that during the next decade a wide range of sectors, such as transport – mobility, health, energy, education, manufacturing, tourism and culture, will be radically transformed. Transformations in these areas have already started on existing networks, however, they will need the capabilities of 5G networks to fully evolve in the coming years.
On the other hand, no technological change of this magnitude is undertaken in vacuum. It requires actions at the level of public policy, but also the right mix of business strategies. In this context, I would like to highlight 5 points for the development of 5G networks that I consider crucial.
First factor: the need for infrastructure investments that will increase network performance relative to current levels in all its parameters. In fact, an evolutionary approach to investments in current infrastructure is expected to be adopted as 5G investments are mainly based on 4G networks.
My second point is tackling the consequences of the need to make the network denser. Each associated area will have its specific characteristics, as the network will not provide the same coverage everywhere, but the infrastructure will be adapted to the characteristics of the expected demand in each region. But here we must formulate well-founded and responsible responses to the issue of radiowaves and health risks. Fears that are expressed, should not be treated as fringe protests by some ill-educated minorities. On the contrary, these fears should be challenged with continuous studies and dissemination of any scientific material. The same is true of cybersecurity and data security issues. Although they concern a more informed public, the basic principles of information should be common in this case too.
Third factor: stimulating innovation and new entrepreneurship as 5G is not just the next mobile technology, but a new approach to complex communication systems that will make more efficient use of available resources. Therefore, a strong activation of the business and productive community is not simply required but strongly expected.
Fourth factor: convergence with actions at European level as plans for public and private 5G investments are launched in the EU with alignment of national priorities and timetables for coordinated development in all Member States.
The fifth factor is the financing of investments. In Greece, the roadmap for 5G is being formulated, incorporating strategies for the development of infrastructures, such as fiber optic networks, 5G and Wi-Fi networks, “smart” cities infrastructure, “smart” automated driving infrastructure and all kinds of fixed, wireless and satellite telecommunication and IoT networks.
Already reforms planned under the Recovery and Resilience Facility Fund, are underway: a) the transition to 5G technology and facilitating the development of innovative digital services and b) the development of 5G infrastructure, optic fiber infrastructure in buildings, digital interconnection of the islands are already underway. About 35 of the investments described in Greece 2.0 reform plan require -or imply- support from upgraded, new generation broadband networks.
Therefore, promoting investment in this infrastructure is not only emblematic, but crucial so that we can safely enjoy, in the medium term, benefits in all areas of our socio-economic activity.