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The increasing complexity of 5G technology: is this an issue for competition?

The debate regarding the 5G development, implementation and disruptiveness is gathering growing attention. This infrastructure will provide the basis for digitisation in many areas of our lives, hence influencing a broad spectrum of sectors....

The paper “5G deployment: The role and challenges of regulatory bodies in ensuring convergence within the EU” (Bruni, A.) will be presented at the 9th Conference on the Regulation of Infrastructures (25-26 June, 2020).


The 5G network enables a set of new technical features and services that will contribute to a substantial transformation of the digital market. The novelties 5G networks introduce will also determine, more than ever before, a convergence of multiple sectors that will use the new network functionalities to delivers new applications and services. Due to its cross-border nature, and as a result of the sectors involved, the 5G network touches upon different laws and, thus, multiple regulatory regimes, requiring cooperation among many regulatory bodies.

Mainly focusing on the role of EU Regulatory bodies, the paper intends to demonstrate how current legislative initiatives currently lack concrete and efficient rules to streamline collaboration between regulatory agencies, undermining the efficiency of the inevitable cross-sector convergence process enhanced by the 5G network. Notwithstanding the multiple regulatory frameworks interested by the 5G networks, the paper will focus on those that have been considered necessary preconditions for its deployment: The European Electronic Communication Code, The BEREC Regulation and the NIS Directive.

The deployment of the new generation of network, due to its cross-border nature will have an impact on existing regulatory frameworks, enhancing convergence and requiring cross-sectoral rules and regulation. Notwithstanding, the actions undertaken by the EU regulatory bodies, none of the legislative initiatives produced so far at EU level foresees procedures to ensure coordination among the EU regulatory bodies. Such an approach risks to undermine, among others, the efforts in providing a secure rollout of 5G networks, which is a necessary step to achieve the digital transformation of the EU’s economy and society.

In conclusion, the development of initiatives to ensure convergence among sectors, also through collaborative procedures between national and European entities that have the role in overseeing the enforcement of legislative provisions is desirable.



Associate Legal Researcher at the KU Leuven Center for IT and IP Law (CiTiP), Alessandro Bruni obtained his first degree in Law at the University of Siena (IT) and the second one in Law & Technology (LLM) at Tilburg University (NL). During his career, Alessandro has been working for civil society as policy officer on specific EU dossiers (i.e. TSM Regulation GDPR, ePrivacy, and Copyright). He has also gained significant experience in the private sector, joining Deloitte, and working as Regulatory Officer for Telia Company, a European Telecom operator, where he had the opportunity to enhance his knowledge of the telecommunication sector. Alessandro is primarily focusing his research activities on communications law and new technologies.

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