The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) hosted the inaugural the Fifth Generation (5G) forum meeting from 1-2 November 2017 in Sandton, with the intention to intensify a collaborative arrangement with government, institutions of higher learning, research institutions, industry players as well as any other formations with interest in the uptake of technological innovation.
The Forum aims to support the policy makers and the Authority in making meaningful contributions to and participating in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) processes for the development of regulations and standards for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), in line with the IMT-2020 vision. One of the key strategies geared at achieving the digital agenda in South Africa is to ensure that the regulatory regime for IMT-2020 is flexible, supports innovative technologies and serve the needs of end-users.
'5G generally refers to technologies that provide services with extremely low latency of less than 1ms, download data speeds of more than 10 Gbps, vast connectivity, high mobility and extremely low energy consumption,' says ICASA's Councillor Peter Zimri, chairperson at this event. Other parameters such as energy efficiency, reliability, control plane latency, mobility interruption time with their applicable scenarios are provided in the ITU-R Reports. According to industry experts standardisation bodies are currently working with operators, vendors and industries and aim at the commercial launch of 5G by about 2020 and beyond.
From the outset, ICASA wishes to inform the public that 5G is not officially standardised yet. The intention is to develop a collaborative and contribution arrangement by the 5G Forum in the consensus building process for IMT-2020 standardisation including minimum technical performance requirements and evaluation guidelines through the partnership with registered evaluation Groups. This is to give effect to the Technology that is to qualify by the ITU-R as an IMT2020 Technology by 2020, The Technology will then be qualified for an Industry, named, 5G" through the concurrent process by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as 5G, Release 15 and beyond.
ICASA's interest in 5G technologies stems from the belief that ultimately all the people of South Africa should have access to 5G, which is an all embracing technology that would offer much more scope, in a manner that would enable automation of device and machine use, through the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT).
A number of topics and discussions centred around typical use cases that 5G could be applied to, the radio-frequency spectrum that would be required as well as the role that standards could play in making 5G services effective and purposeful.
With ongoing discussions both locally and internationally, there are two key success factors in making affordable broadband communications available:
"The development of the ITU's IMT family of global standards. In this case, the process to develop the IMT standards for 5G is in place and has been agreed to in close collaboration with the industry and a wide range of stakeholders in the 5G community.
Identification of harmonized spectrum for IMT operation on a global/regional basis. In this case, the World Radiocommunication Conference of 2015 (WRC-15) harmonized existing and identified new frequency bands for IMT operation. Studies are underway for WRC-19 to identify additional frequency bands for IMT-2020 operation. In order to do this, there needs to be close cooperation with (and within) Regional groups".
The meeting was attended by participants representing consumers, operators, researchers, consultants, universities, technical colleges, government bodies and other interested parties. Important decisions have been taken regarding the forming of a steering committee and working groups to take matters forward.
ICASA's Councillors Paris Mashile and Palesa Kadi emphasised that the Authority is confident that this inaugural meeting will go a long way in bringing all parties together and sharing information that would see proper and effective regulatory framework put in place.
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Issued by: Independent Communications Authority of South Africa