Amid increasingly breathless worldwide next generation mobile rollout claims and closer to home, Telstra’s announcement it’s offering 5G services in selected areas, Telecom Times was fortunate to chat with Chris Althaus, CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association.

Telecom Times –  For enterprise, what will be the single game changing opportunity of 5G in the near term?

Chris Althaus – 4G and 5G will work together with new innovations being developed over time and both greatly expanding and diversifying the market. A standout feature of 5G is the ability to be able to ‘slice the network’ to create specific network solutions for specific industries.

The network slicing ability will be instrumental in leading the 5G evolution towards a better-connected future and new technological capabilities which will help transform businesses by enabling efficiencies that will boost productivity to further enhance the mobile sector’s already significant contribution to the economy.

TT  How do you gauge the preparedness of business and enterprise in Australia in terms of capitalising on the opportunities around the rollout of 5G?

CA – Australia is a global leader in 5G, this leadership position in partnership with general market awareness of mobile technology means that the level of business preparedness is high, with Deloitte research showing that the vast majority of businesses are aware and planning for 5G.

However, the rollout of 5G solutions continues to develop as we are still in the early days of its evolution. It’s important to understand that 4G and 5G will work in partnership with new 5G innovations being developed over time, so there is an enormous opportunity for businesses to be using 4G and advanced 4G now and ultimately allow for a seamless transition to 5G.

TT –  Can you nominate any particular local challenges around this and some instances of how these have been addressed well and less well in your view?

CA – The two key components for a successful 5G rollout are to have allocation of the right spectrum and a clear path for efficient network deployment. Currently the spectrum situation has been largely defined for the first 5G bands.

In addition to spectrum, AMTA’s immediate focus is on mobile network deployment and to ensure the pathways to delivery are as efficient as possible to enable a successful rollout of 5G.

We’ve been working closely with government agencies who are engaging to understand the rollout of 5G and the appropriate regulatory settings.

As with any evolution to a new generation network, we understand that some people may have concerns. For example, in relation to health matters the underlying technologies and radio frequencies (RF) and associated standards cover 5G just as they do previous generations.

In addition, there is a huge body of scientific evidence and official agencies including the World Health Organisation, Department of Communications, ACMA and ARPANSA, recognise that there are no adverse health outcomes associated with 5G or any previous mobile generation.

The challenge now is to ensure ongoing progress in deployment of 5G to enable Australia to remain a world leader and benefit from the new opportunities and efficiencies that will be enabled by 5G. This enabling ability will help streamline processes, enhance productivity and boost the economy.

TT –  Can you pinpoint any glaring omissions or ‘tricks missed’ in this process?

CA – Not at this point in time. It is early days in the evolution and as part of that the industry and government are identifying challenges as they arise but there is nothing glaring at this stage.

TT –  Do you expect the role of AMTA to change significantly in the wake of the 5G rollout?

CA –  The role of AMTA won’t change significantly in the wake of the 5G rollout, just as when we transitioned from 3G to 4G, our role to represent the industry remains the same.

The pathway from 4G to 5G however, will significantly broaden the range of stakeholders we work with because of the extension and opportunities that 5G provides. This diversification will make mobile directly relevant for many more industries and expand the role of the mobile sector.

A recent report commissioned with AMTA and Deloitte Access Economics, called Mobile Nation 2019 – the 5G Future, underlines the importance of the mobile sector as a major contributor to the Australian economy, supporting nearly $23 billion of Australia’s GDP.

However, by 2023, with the rollout of 5G, mobile enabled technologies are set to boost Australia’s productivity to be worth $65 billion – which highlights the expected expansion of the role of mobile technologies, not just across businesses but within our daily lives.

TT –  For enterprise more broadly and mobile operators specifically, do you see any near-term opportunities which some key players might not even be aware of?

CA – The industry, particularly mobile operators, are on a learning curve when it comes to 5G and the business models that will be needed in a 5G era. The 5G rollout has begun and there is a huge opportunity for the mobile industry to expand significantly by pursuing much more direct and integrated partnerships with customers than ever before – a key to expansion will be through these partnerships with industry customers.