With federal and regional authorities unable to agree on the distribution of income from Belgium’s 5G auction, businesses need to be able to benefit from “moderately regulated zones” so as to prepare for the rollout of 5G technology, according to the tech-industry federation, AGORIA.
“Even if 5G will only be available in Belgium in two years, Belgian businesses need to be able to assess the impact on their IT systems and processes and come up with a roadmap to benefit as soon as possible from the advantages of 5G,” AGORIA stressed at a news conference on Thursday.
The federation is calling for the establishment of moderately regulated zones, in which “telecoms operators, businesses and institutions of knowledge will be able to fast-track actions related to 5G.” There needs to be flexibility on obligations related to radiation levels, building permits and the environment, according to AGORIA, which would like to see such zones created by 1 January 2020 and kept in place until the 5G band is auctioned.
Since some countries have already switched to 5G, AGORIA is urging Belgium’s authorities to act quickly, otherwise the country could miss a wave of investments.
The aeronautics company SABCA, for its part, needs a fast transition to 5G, particularly for its drone service. “A few weeks ago, we ran a totally autonomous flight between Antwerp hospitals, a first in Europe,” SABCA CEO Thibauld Jongen said.
“One of the big challenges of this type of experience is telecommunication,” he noted. “We must be able to rely on a strong signal and 4G is not reliable. We need to look for alternatives. Our neighbours are preparing to switch to 5G, so we risk losing our competitive edge.”
“It’s crucial for public authorities and public and private organisations to come together, make sure they do not miss the 5G train, and see IT as an engine of growth for our knowledge and position in Europe and the world,” he stressed.