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Digitalisation, 5G Loom As Technology Election Issues

The Australian Information Industry Association has called on whichever party wins the coming federal election to accelerate “digitisation” of Australia’s economy and prepare for possible contentious issues with the coming of 5G and IoT services.

A policy document spotted by some sections of the media criticises the current government for its speed – or lack thereof – in adopting digital services and delivering high performance infrastructure.

Of an estimated 811 million government transactions each year, around 40pc are still completed using traditional channels like snail mail and face-to-face, according to the AIIA’s new CEO Rob Fitzpatrick, a former NICTA/Data61 operative.

The AIIA policy document has also called on the Federal Government to begin preparing for the coming 5G mobile networking age by providing “sufficient, adequate and new spectrum”.

Fitzpatrick warns this must include a discussion of which existing services might be dropped from the spectrum to make room – which sounds like the beginning of an almighty scrap between major spectrum users.

Separately, telecommunications industry guru Paul Budde has warned that the spectrum problem is just one of many looming for would-be 5G operators. In his regular BuddeBlog, he suggests that 5G is being over-hyped.

“Our admirable technology companies are telling us that 5G will be 100x faster than 4G and that it will have 50x lower latency,” he says. “But … it depends on what frequency bands are used – 6GHz, 28GHz, 27 GHZ. The higher the frequency the more fibre you need closer to the user …

“Currently less than 50pc of mobile towers are connected to fibre, and the rollout can’t keep up with the rapid deployment of mobile broadband. 5G means more mobile towers – so it is unlikely that all of these towers will be linked to fibre in the near future.”

On IoT via 5G: “The vendors let us believe that 5G is ideal for M2M (IoT) as it will allow for 100x the number of devices to be connected … That might be true, but what about the affordability? There is no indication that prices will match the current costs of linking IoT devices to low-powered wireless networks, 2G networks, mesh networks.”

“Expect a great deal of hype,” Budde warns, adding – tongue in cheek – that 5G “will miraculously support driverless cars (imagine the variability of problems when the car suddenly stops); it will spur robotics and virtual reality; yes, it will allow pigs to fly; and it will make your perfect cup of coffee :-)”

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