Launched last June with the intention of supporting fifth generation development in Hungary and creating a strategy for the country, the 5G Coalition (5GC) now counts 65 members from industry, academia and the government.
The more than 130 experts are organized into five working groups: strategy; network development and infrastructure; test environments, applications and trial systems and international cooperation. The members of the coalition are working on advancing the technology and helping Hungary to be among the first to adopt 5G and become a major European center of 5G development.
By now, there have been around 30 professional proposals from 5GC members, and Hungary is also more aware of where it stands in international comparison, Ákos Mácz, a consultant at the Digital Success Program told the Budapest Business Journal.
“We are dedicating this fall to devise the country’s 5G strategy. The first draft will be ready for discussion by the end of November,” he says.
To achieve the main goals set by the organization – creating conditions that allow Hungary to become a center for 5G development and have a say in setting global 5G standards – a number of conditions have to be meet. Chief amongst these is legislation that supports the development of 5G. This entails, among other things, speeding up licensing procedures and reviewing current taxation practices that impact players in the telecom sector.
The deployment of 5G will require the use of some new frequencies; the European Union has set three pioneer bands: 700 MHz; 3.6 GHz; and 26 GHz. Beyond frequency harmonization at EU-level frequency management is the responsibility of member states: in Hungary, it is the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) that announces auctions for tenders.
The possibilities presented by the coalition and the opportunity to steer the country’s 5G strategy have ensured major buy-in from the likes of Nokia.
“Since 5G will bring about significant changes, it is important that we take part in the discussion and communicate what we see as important,” Zsolt Marosvári, Nokia Hungary’s delegate to the coalition told the BBJ. This discussion between the government, other market players and future users as well as the information gained from running test projects is very valuable for all participants. What Nokia also brings to table is the company’s experience in 5G development worldwide.
Marosvári heads the working group dealing with applications and trial systems. “Here we discuss the applications that will become relevant for 5G,” the expert says. The group prepared a table summarizing the most important applications with potential for Hungary from the 5G viewpoint and also what 5G technology will be necessary for those to work. These include automated industrial halls, self-driving/intelligent vehicles in agriculture, drones, and sensors in homes.
One application theme the company is focusing on is autonomous driving. Beyond having the technology available, a number of conditions have to be met for self-driving to gain more ground, Marosvári says. One is legislation.
“It is crucial for us to see how legislation evolves so we can plan ahead with technology,” the expert says.
Another element to the fast and widespread expansion of 5G is the ability to test systems and run pilot projects. These require a suitable frequency that is available long enough to experiment safely. Legislators therefore should consider making such a frequency available, Marosvári notes.
Ericsson Hungary was a keen supporter of creating the 5GC in Hungary.
“Previous generations of mobile networks addressed consumers predominantly for voice and SMS in 2G, web browsing in 3G, and higher-speed data and video streaming in 4G. The transition from 4G to 5G will serve both consumers and multiple industries,” Roland Jakab, director of Ericsson Hungary told the BBJ. “The technology of 5G will bring about changes and provide opportunities that will transform every industry and we need to be prepared for that,” he adds.
With a strategy ready, the introduction of some programs and having the right frequency bands available will set a path for implementation that could speed up the expansion of services, Jakab says. The fact that everyone concerned in 5G is involved in the creation of the strategy will likely enhance commitment when it comes to the execution of the plan, he adds.
5G is more than a mobile communication technology: it encompasses several industries and will cause a real paradigm shift, those involved insist. Being able to manage these will require certain expertise. So the country needs to start the education and training of experts early, Mácz says.
Hungary has recognized the importance of 5G in good time, the Nokia man notes. “Such a wide cooperation among parties is quite rare elsewhere; it is more common for professionals working together on a specific goal or development,” he explains. “Any new technology, the impact of which people are unaware of, can cause tension. Therefore when we get [close enough to deployment], we need to start raising awareness among public and industry players,” Mácz adds.
In terms of its 4G networks, Hungary fares quite well; it is generally in the top five countries in global surveys. This comes down to the network service providers and suppliers, but also engineering expertise and the government’s role in frequency management, Mácz says. Two of the global leaders in 5G, Nokia and Ericsson, both have R&D centers in Hungary and the cooperation between academia and these market players also contributes to the quality of networks development in Hungary, he adds.