The complexities of regulating 5G

To build a 5G-based digital economy in the Middle East, the regulatory framework must include all of the stakeholders, from government to telcos, and a range of company verticals.
5G, Digital economy, Telecom operators, ICT, SAMENA, Bocar BA
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The only way, from a telecom operator’s perspective, to make 5G profitable, and to build a good use-case for 5G is for the regulatory framework be inclusive of all network stakeholders, not just the ICT sector. A regulatory framework must include the health, transportation, banking and finance, and agricultural sectors.

“We are bringing together all of these stakeholders to understand the challenges that we are experiencing, and to see how we can embrace this new multi-stakeholder platform. We must have a dialogue to see how 5G can benefit not only industry, but the entire population, which will lead us to socio-economic progress,” said Bocar A. Ba, CEO & board member of SAMENA Telecommunications Council, at the SAMENA Telecom Leader’s Summit in Dubai this May.

Currently the telecoms regulatory framework’s regulations are set by governments, by regulators, and policies are set by policy makers.

“When we talk about a technology called V2X, human to vehicle and vehicle to vehicle technology, we need to have the ICT regulations set by the traditional regulator, we also need regulation from the transport authority, hence we have a convergence of regulation. We will have a new set of regulations for 5G, where regulators from the ICT sector will collaborate with regulators from the financial sector, and the healthcare sector, for example. The future is a collaboration among regulators that will foster growth,” said Ba.

To successfully implement 5G, regulators must move into, and embrace the next generation of regulation, but at the same time, operators have to completely transform their business model and move into the 5G world.

“The only way to have solutions is to have friction, from friction, life comes. So we must have a dialogue and it must be constructive, not defensive.  We must have a consensus on how can we move forward. If the consumer is not happy, competition is there, so we have to make the consumer happy,” said Ba.

Regulators need to understand that regulation used to be just technical regulation and consumer regulation, now it also includes economic regulation. Now, any regulation taken will have an impact on the country’s socio-economic development.  According to Ba, regulations should be revised as soon as possible, but the private sector and government are not moving at the same speed towards a consensus.

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