5G - Game changer

The potential of 5G is virtually limitless, but will need widespread cooperation to accelerate the roll-out and reap the benefits, reports Martin Banks.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

05 Dec 2019

The roll-out of next-generation 5G wireless networks can be a “real game changer” and one in which Europe can lead. But, to make this happen, close collaboration is vital.

That was one of the key messages to emerge from The Brussels 5G Assembly, a high-level gathering of experts and policymakers jointly organised by Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Attendees at the one-day conference heard that the EU should become the leading market for deploying 5G mobile networks. They also learned of 5G’s countless potential benefits.


In opening, Dr Hui Cao, head of strategy and policy at Huawei EU Brussels, said “Europe is the natural 5G leader. It has the most advanced operators and a world–leading industrial base.”

“This, married with the best 5G innovators – with Huawei as a full partner – means that Europe can shape the world’s 5G landscape. Those who embrace the potential of 5G will be in charge not only of their digital future, but also of the world’s. With Europe in the driving seat, 5G will certainly be a force for good.”

He added, “Despite the changing winds blowing across the Atlantic, I can promise you that Huawei is focused on developing the best possible 5G products. Strong business continuity is our core value; Huawei is and always will be ready to work with partners in Europe and the rest of the world.”

Abraham Liu, Huawei’s chief representative to the EU institutions and vice-president for the European Region, echoed these sentiments. He highlighted 5G’s ‘potential’ for tackling a range of challenges facing society, including climate change, deforestation and poverty.

"With Europe in the driving seat, 5G will certainly be a force for good" Dr Hui Cao, head of strategy and policy at Huawei Brussels

Liu, the company’s top official in Europe, added, “What we have heard today is how 5G can be a real force for good and address different issues; we are on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution, driven by 5G technology.”

He touched on the ongoing security concerns his company faces in the US, where in May, the government banned American firms from trading with Huawei due to national security concerns.

Liu said, “Digital sovereignty is very important for us. We have been a trusted partner for Europe for 20 years and that will continue to be the case.”

Mark Spelman, head of Thought Leadership at the World Economic Forum, spelled out the economic and societal benefits, but stressed the importance of “close collaboration” to unlock the full potential of 5G.

“It will be essential for regulators, policymakers and application manufacturers to bring everything together. If this does not happen, we will fail to underline underlying problems and risks such as inequality and inclusion.”

Such cooperation “will be an absolutely critical determinant” in deploying 5G technology, he cautioned that roll out “will be slower than it was for 4G because it is more complex. If we want to ensure that it goes faster, then collaboration will be vital.”

Two diverse projects illustrated the role 5G can play; saving the world’s most threatened rainforests and habitats and tackling visual impairment in children.

"5G can be a real force for good and address different issues; we are on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution, driven by 5G technology" Abraham Liu, Huawei’s chief representative to the EU institutions

Topher White, founder and CEO of the Rainforest Connection platform which, he explained, has fought illegal logging and poaching in rainforests in the Amazon and elsewhere.

By harnessing technology, it is possible to stop these illegal activities and thus contribute to tackling climate change. “Slowing down deforestation can have a huge impact on climate change.”

San Francisco-based White demonstrated small devices fitted to trees, which allow anti-poachers to detect the sounds of chainsaws, even in remote places areas. This has enabled environmentalists to seize poachers’ equipment and halt illegal logging.

The next step would be using 5G technology to “better understand and protect” the rainforests. Szymon Peplinski, an award-winning designer, demonstrated the technology he has used to help visually impaired children; an AI-powered app for the blind that translates emotions such as anger and happiness into sounds.

This, he said, “can help a blind person ‘hear’ a smile even though they cannot see it. Expanding human senses in this way is wonderful for someone visually impaired.”

Ranga Yogeshwar, a renowned Germany-based physicist and science journalist, spoke of the recent rapid advances of technologies; “When I was a boy growing up in an Indian village, we were not connected to the outside world.

The internet and mobile technologies have been a real game changer.” He added, “I firmly believe 5G can be the same game changer.

It will allow all of us to participate fully in this new global age unfolding before us.” The event was organised by Huawei in conjunction with the Brussels-based Forum Europe.

Sponsored event by Huawei

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