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< Back to overview page: "BEREC Consultation Platform"

Guide to the BEREC 5G Radar

Starting: 16 Jun Ending

26 days left (ends 31 Jul)

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Stakeholders are invited in particular to answer the following questions related to the draft BEREC Guide to the 5G Radar and 5G Radar:

1) Does the guide to the radar correctly reflect the issues – please give supporting reasons?

2) What are views on indicated priorities at this point – please give supporting reasons?

3) Is there anything omitted from the radar, and why is it important that it should be included now?

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Guide to the BEREC 5G Radar (draft)

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5G is one of BEREC’s strategic priorities set out in the draft strategy for 2021 – 2025[1], underscoring that 5G continue to be a key area as it was already set out in the current BEREC strategy.[2] Over the past years several 5G- related activities have been going on in various working groups and committees. The challenges that need to be addressed range from work on standards, interoperability, new business models, spectrum availability and network sharing, coverage, Quality of Service (QoS), security and resilience. BEREC has identified 5G as a strategic priority with the aim to enable European-scale solutions that promote competition, to being consistent with the EU regulatory framework and which may help reap the benefits of an early and coherent implementation of 5G in terms of innovation, productivity and growth in the internal market. To this end, BEREC will – within the scope of its competence – continue to actively follow the development of 5G and, where relevant, work in cooperation with other EU bodies (in particular the RSPG) to ensure a smooth and quick implementation of 5G in the Member States.

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BEREC will also need to follow innovations in other network technologies, both fixed and wireless, to find common regulatory perspectives of how these technologies influence markets and the potential responsibilities for regulators. The network technologies and developments that have the potential to directly change the way services are used and delivered, such as IoT, NFV/SDN, as well as the technologies that may play a part in enabling such changes, e.g. small cell deployment, will be of particular importance for BEREC to follow in the coming years.

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Many aspects of regulation are involved in the 5G ecosystem. How these are addressed could be critical to the pace at which innovative services are brought to market – especially vertical solutions. This project seeks to help NRAs to anticipate the issues involved and to support the pace of innovation to be optimised.

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This project aims to anticipate any changes to regulation that may be required to keep pace with innovation. It will build on work previously undertaken by BEREC within in this area, in specific the study on the implications of 5G deployments on future business models[3] and the pathfinder mission report. BEREC has also published a number of reports and common positions related to 5G, such as reports about fixed/mobile convergence, infrastructure sharing, spectrum authorisation and award procedures, and coverage obligations. Additionally, infrastructure sharing and -information to consumers on mobile coverage were further studied and published as BEREC common positions.[4]

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Parallel work by BEREC

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In a parallel project, a feasibility study was done about the expected benefits of consistent and coherent presentation of coverage information for 5G deployments for use by market sectors other than mobile network operators (e.g. by new vertical applications and use cases; automotive, industrial, environmental monitoring use cases). In summary, the feasibility study suggested that it was premature for BEREC to study a policy objective to provide harmonised information on 5G coverage and QoS aspects of networks. However, BEREC committed to continue to facilitate exploratory discussions with industry stakeholders, with the objective of keeping BEREC informed of relevant discussions around coverage information and QoS aspects of 5G networks.

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It acknowledged that previous network generations have been designed as general-purpose communication networks with limited differentiation capabilities across use cases. 5G is expected to create an ecosystem for technical and business innovation involving a number of different vertical markets such as energy, agriculture, city management, government, healthcare, manufacturing and public transportation. It will serve a larger portfolio of applications with requirements ranging from high reliability to ultra-low latency to high bandwidth and mobility. The 5G ecosystem is likely to become the cornerstone for digital connectivity which is a major driver of economic growth and serving societal needs. Many of the proposed 5G services and use cases and their respective providers are part of a particular vertical market (i.e. services which are specific to an industry or a group of customers), some of which have been broadly classified by the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) as ’verticals’1, but which BEREC considers are businesses with connectivity requirements. Businesses with connectivity requirements / vertical industries are expected to be the main driver of making the 5G ecosystem sustainable. Since 5G technology is designed to support a large range of use cases, the 5G ecosystem is likely to be broader than earlier generations of mobile communications systems as the needs of different users may be specific to particular sectors. In addition, different business models may arise with 5G, with new players/actors entering the market. For example, in some cases mobile network operators may have a direct customer relationship with customers in the vertical. In other use cases, one or more intermediate parties may arise that are specialised in fulfilling the specific connectivity needs of a vertical. In this new large ecosystem where multi-vendors seek to serve the communications needs of multi-use-cases, it is envisaged that NRAs may have a role to play for example in the provisioning of coverage information and Quality-of-Service (QoS) aspects of future 5G networks that cater for the needs of the verticals.

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In December 2019, BEREC published a report on the impact of 5G on regulation and the role of regulation in enabling the 5G ecosystem, a first assessment based in stakeholder input. This report is the result of a “horizon scanning exercise” and poses a range of questions such as how services might be rolled out, how markets might develop, and how any of these might raise new regulatory challenges for NRAs. New regulatory challenges does not mean more regulation per se, but could also mean more proportionate or less regulation, depending on the issue at hand.

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Many aspects of regulation are involved in the 5G ecosystem. How these are addressed could be critical to the pace at which innovative services are brought to market – especially within vertical sectors. This project should help NRAs to anticipate the issues involved, to support the pace of innovation to be optimized.

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The first assessment included stakeholder views on an initial list of regulatory aspects in the context of 5G. From the initial list and the stakeholder input it can be concluded that there are many regulatory aspects that needs to be addressed. However, not all of the aspects need attention at the same time. 5G will be gradually introduced. Many Member States are now issuing the required spectrum. Aspects related to roll-out will probably need earlier attention than issues related to network slicing. In order to help NRAs prioritizing the projects to address the identified aspects, this follow-up report presents a radar plotting the 5G developments according to the anticipated time horizon.

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In paragraph 1 the stepwise introduction of 5G will be explained. In paragraph 2 the stepwise introduction will be linked to use cases and regulatory challenges. Paragraph 3 describes the main observations and conclusions of the 5G-radar. Paragraph 4 explains the radar as an instrument and how it can be used.

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The development of 5G-services will not happen at once, but will evolve gradually. The new services are dependent on standardization work by the 3GPP and the different release phases.

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In the first phase, called ”3GPP Release 15 Non-stand-alone”, the focus is primarily on specifications for radio access in order to provide the use case ”enhanced mobile broadband”, i.e. more bandwidth to handle increasing data volumes. The radio access interfaces will be the present 4G-LTE and the new 5G-NR, while the core network will consist of the present core network for 4G-LTE.

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Todays LTE-based networks have a relatively high spectral efficiency, close to the theoretical maximum. Hence, the efficiency gain when going from 4G-LTE to 5G-NR will not be as big as it was when 3G-UMTS was replaced by 4G-LTE. In order to provide higher capacity in the radio access network, it will be necessary to have new frequency bands and to install more base stations.

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For the second phase, called ”3GPP Release 15 Stand-alone”, substantial investments are needed. The core network must be upgraded based on cloud services and virtualisation, and the new core will not be compatible with the old core for 4G-LTE. The standardisation for phase one and two was completed in June 2018, and 5G-modules for consumer products has become available in late 2019.

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In the third phase, called ”3GPP Release 16”, new functions are included, e.g. the introduction of ”massive IoT” and other network improvements in order to realize the full potential of 5G. Standardisation for this phase has taken place in December 2019, and equipment based on these standards is not expected to be on the market before 2021.[5]

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