Everything You Need to Know About the 5G Manifesto

Some of the largest telecom companies from around the world recently signed what’s being popularly called the “5G Manifesto”. Aimed at furthering the deployment of next-generation mobile networks, the manifesto constitutes a pledge to launch speedy 5G mobile networks in every country within the EU by 2020.

The manifesto, which was signed by BT, Nokia, Orange, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, also references current net neutrality regulations as potentially hampering innovation, claiming that the regulations have led to “significant uncertainties.”

save internetNet neutrality is a concept that has come up often in internet law debates and involvs all internet data traffic being treated equally, with no single content provider allowed to gain advantage over others. Campaigners for net neutrality believe that its protection is the only way to enable free and open competition on the internet.

“The EU and member states must reconcile the need for open internet with pragmatic rules that foster innovation,” it reads in the 5G Manifesto. “The telecom industry warns that the current net neutrality guidelines, as put forward by BEREC [the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications], create significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment… Investments are therefore likely to be delayed unless regulators take a positive stance on innovation and stick to it.”

According to the treaty, all the businesses are now committed to launching 5G in a minimum of one city per EU country by the time year 2020 rolls around. 5G will be the fifth generation of mobile networks and is likely to be significantly faster than the currently available 3G and 4G networks.

Back in October of last year, the European Parliament made an important decision to vote against amendments backed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Netflix and Reddit that were designed to safeguard net neutrality. This led many unequal internet campaigners to fear that innovation would be stifled in the future by unfair internet competition.

“Telecom companies cannot blackmail Europe into weakening net neutrality in exchange for investment in 5G networks, and it is disappointing that the European Commission appear to have endorsed their manifesto,” stated executive director of the Open Rights Group Jim Killock. “True innovation is not about protecting the vested interests of large telcos… BEREC needs to publish net neutrality guidelines that will protect the free and open internet for small businesses and consumers as well.”

5GAccording to one analyst, telecom companies likely want confidence regarding the possibility that the business and regulatory environment will be adequately stable for the lifetime of their investment in a new 5G infrastructure. After all, if they invest in the creation of expensive and time-consuming infrastructure only to have the entire market change face, the 5G Manifesto could spell the doom of the telecom companies that signed it, as opposed to laying out a hopeful and optimistic outlook of the future.

“I think it’s less about net neutrality and more about clarity on the regulatory environment, and to help telecoms companies plan the business case for 5G,” stated Ian Fogg, head analyst at IHS technology. “They need confidence that the regulatory environment will stay stable for a period of years.”

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