Deputies unhappy that a debate on the future of 5G was taken off the table are looking to get it back on the political agenda.
A requête has been submitted by seven Deputies who want Economic Development to submit a policy letter, before the end of this States term, detailing its recommended policy on 5G technology.
In October, a document called ‘Future of Telecoms Strategy – update for States members’ was emailed to Deputies by an Officer for the Committee, saying that a policy letter on 5G - which they previously said they would produce - was no longer needed.
The Committee said it had become clear during the consultation that the move towards 5G would be incremental, using existing 4G networks to deliver ‘4G+’ and then variables of 5G, rather than a new, single standalone 5G network, arguing that this evolutionary approach meant it would “not be practical to seek a single licence for the issuance of suitable spectrum in initial 5G deployments”.
Pictured: Deputy de Sausmarez said there was a lot of public interest in 5G locally and internationally.
However, Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, who is leading the requête, said the mooted introduction of next-generation technology had sparked a great deal of public interest.
“Our telecommunications network forms part of the island’s critical infrastructure – in other words, it’s essential to the smooth functioning of our society and economy," he said. "I find it surprising that a telecoms policy has never been agreed or endorsed by the States, especially as an independent report in 2010 concluded that developing ‘an appropriate policy and regulatory approach with respect to new technologies and next-generation infrastructure’ should be a top priority.
"5G – the full roll out of which is expected within the next few years – will be a major development, and it will also be quite different to previous generations of telecoms technology. The States should be making conscious decisions about the policy and regulatory framework, rather than waving significant changes in through the back door without proper scrutiny.”
Deputy de Sausmarez stressed that the requête does not endorse any particular viewpoint or suggest any particular approach.
“It is simply a matter of good governance: the States should have an opportunity to participate in an informed debate and to make informed decisions on a key issue like this. Without a debate, we risk sleepwalking into a policy-by-default situation.”
Pictured: Anti-5G campaigner Devra Davies came to the island last year to voice her concerns over the technology.
Deputy de Sausmarez said she would be willing to withdraw the requête if Economic Development would commit to bringing a policy letter to the Assembly.
“The Committee for Economic Development could decide ahead of any debate to bring a policy letter on 5G to the States, in which case I’d be happy to consider withdrawing the requête. That could save some time in what is going to be a busy stretch towards the end of the political term.”
Although it will not be introduced straight away, the roll out of a full island-wide 5G network remains a longer term objective for Economic Development, who that "the full deployment of the standalone version of 5G will take place post 2022".
The requête has been signed by Deputies Lindsay de Sausmarez, Laurie Queripel, Victoria Oliver, Jennifer Merrett, Matt Fallaize, Emilie McSwiggan and Shane Langlois.
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