5G Tech in Post-COVID Canada

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By Ryan McLaughlin & Rosina Hamoni

Earlier this summer, ICTC’s Ryan McLaughlin and Rosina Hamoni spoke with Geoff Sullivan of MOBIA Technology Innovations about 5G mobile technology in Canada. Geoff is an Automation Lead at MOBIA, with over 5 years of experience in the tech sector.

Ryan:

What are your thoughts on where Canada is relative to other countries on 5G? As we sometimes see in studies from organizations like the OECD, Internet and mobile data is expensive in Canada compared to other countries. As a result, we don’t have very high penetration of these services compared to other countries. Why is that, in your view?

Geoff: 

Based on my experience, Canada is rolling out 5G at the same pace that it usually rolls out new technology: typically, that is the wait-and-see approach. Or, “Let’s see what AT&T and Verizon do. Let them make those initial mistakes as they have the deep pockets, and then we can learn from that.” The technical telecommunications industry globally is getting a lot better at sharing best practices, and there is a lot more open-source and collaboration going on, but 5G adoption in Canada is going to take place at a pace that is probably a few years behind the US.
In terms of expensive internet, I tend to think it is a “scale thing.” It is about how Canada’s population is distributed across its geography. We have vast infrastructure requirements, which creates economic challenges.

Rosina:

Since many new functions are moving online, we’ve seen that the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating concerns about cybersecurity. Do you think that 5G has implications for cybersecurity?

Geoff: 

5G is architected a bit differently than prior generations—it is very much software based. This generation of technology is very disaggregated from its hardware layer. That is going to be a challenge from an operations perspective and, as a result, could also be a challenge from a security perspective. You can imagine that there are a lot of people within the telecom world that may need to retool and relearn how these things run. Software has always had vulnerabilities, so it is just a matter of when it’s caught and by whom. You could make the argument that since it is much more of a disaggregated architecture, potentially there is more opportunity for human error or missed bugs during quality assurance.

Read the full interview here 🎙

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