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This series of five webinars will provide an opportunity to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the future of the 5G, exploring the topic from different perspectives: infrastructural, economic, geopolitical and technological. The online seminars are organised by the Florence School of Regulation – Communications and Media (FSR C&M) of the European University Institute (EUI), in the context of the project “Innovation and Intellectual Property in the Digital Age”.


In the last years, discussions regarding the development of 5G, implementation and disruptiveness have gathered growing attention and been at the centre of the debate of electronic communications’ policy and the business community. This cycle of webinars aims to investigate and debate to what extent the socio-economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak could have altered the priorities and focus of policymakers, business actors and consumers regarding 5G.

During the current crisis, many have underlined that 5G could be a crucial asset not only in facing the sanitary emergency but also in providing solutions to future emerging challenges. Actually, a major crisis, as has often happened in the past, can be a driver for rapid technological advancement and 5G is a technology that can prove its worth. As a relevant example, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) provides opportunities to help healthcare professionals access remotely detailed data about patients, improving the speed and accuracy of diagnosis and treatments, and monitoring their health status in real-time. With the help of tools such as tracking devices and sensors, remote patient monitoring (RPM), telemedicine, and connected assistance, individuals are empowered to record their behaviour, get an online diagnosis and manage their own health more efficiently, without leaving home. Important 5G use cases extend to enabling automated logistics solutions in times of limited mobility, to the predictions about future outbreaks, to the management of mission-critical services.

On the other side, some factors can slow down the take-off of this ground-breaking technology: the existence of significant limitations in the supply chain (many components used for both devices and networks are manufactured in China), the postponement of the auctions for the spectrum and the intensification of the networks’ usage, which might reallocate resources from the deployment of new networks to the preservation of existing ones what might have a negative impact on next-generation wireless technology. On top of that, pre-existing geopolitical tensions related to the development of 5G, particularly between the USA and China, have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The extent to which this unprecedented global crisis has impacted the timing or implementation trajectory, but not demand, of 5G is open to debate.

The webinars will take place in Fall 2020, via Zoom. Participation in the webinars is free of charge. However, prior online registration is required for each webinar.



5G networks roll-out: has Covid-19 redesigned the policy priorities?

Thursday 29th October, 13.00 – 14.00 CET

The first webinar of the cycle will focus on Covid-19 impacts on the development and on the roll-out of the next-generation systems. While 5G has already been launched in many markets across the world, in most cases coverage has been limited to small, densely populated areas. In the current situation, uncertainties weigh on the rollout schedules defined before the crisis, and actually a number of regulators have decided to postpone long-awaited auctions of the spectrum that would enable operators to launch or expand 5G networks. The webinar will focus on the extent to which the current crisis has redefined the pre-existing EU policy plans aimed at making 5G a reality for all citizens and businesses by the end of 2020.



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