5G is “important”, but pandemic has shown that 4G is ” up to the challenges”

  • ECO News
  • 21 May 2020

Altice Portugal says "the world has changed". The Covid-19 proved that the current networks are "up to the challenges".

Altice Portugal still believes 5G technology is “important and disruptive” for the country, but considers “the world has changed” because of the pandemic. With most Portuguese forced to telework, and no significant incidents or failures to report in this period, the company now highlights that “4G infrastructures are equal to the current challenges.”

In a press conference by telephone, it became clear the evolution in the group’s thinking regarding the fifth generation of communication networks, whose launch in Portugal was interrupted because of Covid-19. In this sense, although the leader of Altice Portugal, Alexandre Fonseca, was one of the most fervent critics of Anacom due to the 5G delay before the outbreak started, the manager now recovers the narrative of the end of 2018: there is still untapped potential in the current 4G networks.

“The [public] consultation on the 5G auction was interrupted, and the world has changed. So it is also natural that perspectives on something as relevant as 5G may change. If the digital transformation now has an even more relevant role, this moment requires us to be a little cautious,” he said, in response to questions from journalists.

The argument is: if faced with a real exercise, such as that triggered by the pandemic, the Portuguese have worked remotely via the Internet and there are no significant flaws to record, either in 4G or in fibre optics, what is the rationale for forcing the launch of 5G at this stage, something that Brussels wanted to see done as early as 2020? For the manager, the pandemic “showed” that although 5G is an “important and disruptive” technology, “the current networks are in line with the needs.”

But Altice Portugal hasn’t completely devalued 5G. On the contrary. The company says the new generation of the mobile network is important to allow applications that are not currently feasible. At stake are the improvements that 5G incorporates to the level of latencies.

In other words, 5G will be important to the industry. But it won’t be so important for consumers in general, since the current capacity of 4G hasn’t been depleted yet, said Alexandre Fonseca.