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An epochal but necessarily conscious turning point, 5G

An epochal but necessarily conscious turning point, 5G

The term 5G is generally used to refer to technologies and standards subsequent to the fourth generation (4G/IMT1 – Advanced), which meet certain requirements to increase both the performance of services currently offered and to support new services, such as the Internet of Things” (IoT) including so-called M2M (Machine to Machine) communications, as well as transmission and communication services in emergency and public safety situations.

From the user’s point of view, the difference between 4G and 5G will be mainly represented by a set of system features, including higher quality of service in terms of higher speed and lower latency of data transmission, with the possibility of obtaining high transmission capacities and/or very low delays in the various applications.

5G will therefore constitute a framework that will also have to integrate existing technologies and support an extremely heterogeneous environment of fixed and mobile networks, characterised by a multiplicity of radio interfaces and will therefore be able to allow the simultaneous connection of a greater number of devices, greater efficiency in the use of the radio spectrum (greater volume of data per unit of area), lower battery consumption and a lower probability of service interruption.

Work on the standardisation and development of 5G systems, which started in 2013 (starting with the EU Commission’s initiative: “5G Public Private Partnership” and the “5G Architecture Working Group”), is still ongoing, using European resources that are funding numerous research projects.

The telephone networks, in relation to the different functionalities and technological developments that have occurred in recent years, are classified in terms of “generations”. The second generation (2G) networks were born in 1991 as a set of standards regulating mobile telephony, with no particular attention to data transmission. The main difference between first and second generation networks is that the latter are completely digital. The third generation (3G) focused on video calls and mobile Internet and TV. 4G networks are designed to improve aspects such as IP telephony (VoIP), video conferencing and cloud computing, as well as streaming video and online gaming. The fourth generation of mobile technology (also known as LTE) has been under implementation since 2010.

European policies for the development of 5G are set out in the European Commission’s “Action Plan for 5G”, referred to in the European Commission Communication of 14 September 2016, COM(2016) 588 final. The Communication foresees a series of actions aimed at the timely and coordinated deployment of 5G networks in Europe. In particular, the aim of the Communication is to ensure the alignment of roadmaps and priorities for the coordinated deployment of 5G networks to ensure that the Union has the connectivity infrastructure needed for its digital transformation from 2020 and for full deployment in urban areas and along major transport axes by 2025.

On 29 January 2020, the EU Commission approved a package of tools, agreed with Member States, containing mitigation measures to address the security risks associated with the launch of 5G. The EU Commission also adopted a Communication (COM(2020) 50 final) for the implementation of this package of rules for the safe deployment of 5G. For further details, please consult the EU Observatory’s website on 5G.

The initial deployment of the network in our country is due to Vodafone and started on 5 June 2019. Subsequently, Tim, Wind, Tre and Fastweb also installed the 5G antennas, creating a first shared network. At present, the cities with coverage are: Milan, Turin, Brescia, Bologna, Rome, Naples, but we will have to wait until 2022 for a more widespread coverage.

On 19 February 2020, the European Commission also published the Communication “A European Data Strategy” – Of course, as specified also by scientific studies at home, the links between 5G as an enabling technological factor and aspects such as artificial intelligence, the use of big data and the role of algorithms, cybersecurity and, from an infrastructural point of view, broadband connections, all essential to ensure the proper development of 5G technologies, are evident.

In particular, with reference to cybersecurity, it is essential to continue along the path undertaken with the establishment of the national cybersecurity perimeter and with the strengthening of the special powers that can be activated with respect to the subjects operating in network infrastructure activities, operating within the common European security framework.

With the advent of 5G, it becomes a priority to guarantee a high level of security of networks, information systems and IT services of public administrations, as well as of national, public and private entities and operators, through the establishment of the national cybernetic security perimeter and the provision of suitable measures to guarantee the necessary security standards aimed at minimising risks while allowing the widest possible use of the most advanced tools offered by information and communication technologies.

It is therefore necessary to continue along the path of adaptation of our country towards a more effective information security system which, among other things, is inspired by the fundamental principles of the European Regulation on the protection of personal data no. 2016/679.


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