Minister for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

A/g Minister for Regional Communications

Minister for the Arts

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Speech at the AMTA Mobile Nation 5G Launch

18 October 2017

E & OE
FIFIELD:

Thanks very much Stuart and congratulations on your unopposed re-election. It's terrific to see that guided democracy is alive and well at AMTA. And Chris who is just a great leader of this organisation. I love AMTA. There are a range of industry bodies, we know, across portfolios. But AMTA really is a model of bringing everyone together. So thank you Chris for all that you do.

Great to be here with some of my colleagues David Gillespie, Fletch, David Leyonhjelm also Michelle Rowland, my opposite number. And I also acknowledge James Cameron from ACMA, who is one of the most popular people in this room today. Everyone is focussed very keenly on ACMA's work in this area. And also congratulations to John and the team from Deloitte.

We are really, really lucky in Australia. We have a fantastic mobile network. Something in the order of 99% of the population are covered by the network. And there are a couple of reasons for that. First and foremost is that Australians are very early adopters of technology, and have a voracious appetite for new ways of consuming. And we know that they are going to be on board with bells on with all the opportunities that 5G will present as well.

The other reason why we have such a great mobile network in Australia is because, unlike the fixed line voice network which was a government venture, courtesy of PMG and Telecom and unlike the NBN which we as we know is also a government venture, the mobile network has grown commercially. It's grown organically. And with very limited government intervention.

The way our mobile network has developed really is a model for the way that communications networks should become established. So it's always interesting, I think, to pause and reflect on that study of contrasts between our mobile network and some of the other networks which have evolved in Australia.

We are all really excited about 5G because it represents a revolutionary change compared to the incremental changes that we have seen through the other generations of mobile. We all remember fondly when we first had mobile come to Australia in the 1980's. We were extremely excited that we could talk on the analogue network. We got excited again in the 90's when we went to digital and we had the capacity to receive SMS's. Even more excited again in the 2000's when we had data and you could have SMS's across carriers and you could reply to SMS's. And even more excited again in late 2000's with 4G and the increases in speed and capacity.

5G will be revolutionary because whether you are talking about data rates, productivity, latency, reliability or mobility it is all a big improvement. And the Deloitte paper is important, it is a good primer for the opportunities that there are across sectors. Particularly the greater capacity on these networks and the mass deployment of smart infrastructure that will be further underpinning and turbo charging the Internet of Things. And it is sometimes referred to as the underpinning of what could be, and what I think will be, the fourth industrial revolution. So profound is it. So that's why last week I released our 5G directions paper. It's why I announced we'll have a working group that brings together government and industry.

And just a few of the highlights of the discussion paper, just to make clear what we see as the role of government. Obviously it is to make sure there's the right spectrum available in a timely manner. Obviously there's working in the international fora on the global standards making process. And then very importantly there is ensuring that we have a streamlined planning process for the telco's who will be rolling out the infrastructure. So that can be done in a way that is fast and at low cost. We're receiving feedback on our consultation paper at the moment and we will have some more to say about that in a little while.

As I started in my remarks this morning. Mobile in Australia has developed organically and commercially. It will be that case with 5G, it will be the case with the way that industry embraces the opportunity that it presents. This will be an area where industry leads the way. Industry is already leading the way in terms of some of the trials which are in place. And we know that we will have 5G trials in association with the Commonwealth Games.

This is exciting. Congratulations to AMTA again for the leadership it has shown. And congratulations to Deloitte for this important piece of work. And I look forward to working with everyone in this room to seeing 5G becoming a reality in Australia. And to enjoy collectively both the economic and the social opportunities it unlocks.

ENDS

Media contact:
Geraldine Mitchell | 0407 280 476 |
Geraldine Mitchell@communications.gov.au

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