AS GOVERNMENTS around the world gear up to usher in the fifth generation of wireless technology atop their digital agendas, Myanmar should follow this trend by adopting 5G as a national strategy for the next decade, a forum has heard.
Jianjun Zhou, vice president of Huawei Global Carrier Business Group, said Myanmar should draw up a comprehensive ICT plan for the next 10 years, focusing on 5G deployment to drive forward the digital economy.
Speaking at the Myanmar 5G Forum2018 on Wednesday, he urged the government to urgently draft a clear national 5G development plan, as it will take some years for a 5G ecosystem to mature in an emerging market such as Myanmar.
He suggested four pillars that Myanmar must prepare before the 5G era comes into being: policy, spectrum, site, and fibre.
“Firstly, the government should create the policy and regulatory environment to support a more efficient rollout, given its potential benefits to the economy. The government’s direction should support the timely rollout of 5G to enable the next wave of broad-based industry in Myanmar,” he said.
“Secondly, carriers lack spectrum. The government needs to plan a 5G-oriented spectrum roadmap, and release sufficient spectrum resources for 5G deployment. Thirdly, site resources are still insufficient for both 4G and 5G, and the cost is very expensive. Carriers need government support with site resources. Lastly, the government needs to unify and manage the fibre rollout. Fibre should be introduced in synergistic with 5G rollout. No fibre, no 5G.”
He urged the authorities to avoid inflating 5G spectrum prices – such as through excessive reserve prices or annual fees - as they may limit network investment. He suggested encouraging heavy investments in 5G networks by allowing long-term licences and renewal.
“If the government allows carriers to share the infrastructure of other public utilities, it will greatly help reduce costs and speed up deployment,” he said.
According to the executive, the government should also encourage the backbone transition to fibre by letting fibre connect every site before 5G deployment.
“Deploying new networks is not easy. We have to deal with many |challenges in terms of the technology, resources, regulations, and business cases. But we believe that 5G will make an important |contribution to Myanmar society,” he said.
The executive pledged that Huawei will closely work with other partners on technology development and standardisation, to make 5G a reality in Myanmar.
Worapat Patram, director of public policy at Intel Microelectronics (Thailand) Ltd and a representative of Global Mobile Suppliers Association, stressed the importance of multi-stakeholders collaboration to drive the success of 5G in Myanmar.
“Ensuring affordable access to spectrum is fundamental. The preference is for exclusive licences. Auctions represent a fair regime by providing a rational market value of dedicated spectrum to users who value it the most,” he said.
Worapat said spectrum auctions should not be designed to maximise revenue but should be designed to stimulate infrastructure investments and spectrum usage.
Ismail Shah, head of Southeast Asia and Timor Leste at International Telecommunication Union, urged authorities to prepare for addressing regulatory challenges including licensing, spectrum allocation, identification, security and privacy, infrastructure sharing, data analytics, and the disposal of electronic waste.