Dubai: The standard for Fifth Generation mobile technology (5G) will be set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) by the end of next year

Speaking to Gulf News, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said that the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), scheduled for October 2019 in Egypt, will fix the basic standards and the spectrum for 5G, with the whole package expected to be complete by 2020 for a service that will be available for the next 10 years.

The WRC is organised by the ITU to review and revise radio regulations.

“Most of the 2020 agenda is on target. I have urged the members to focus on four ‘I’s — Innovation, investment, infrastructure and inclusiveness — where we can have the most impact,” he said. “The challenge before us today is to ensure that these technologies and ICTs in general continue to be a source for good for everyone across the world.”

The ITU hopes that satellite operators, which it is engaged in talks with, will cooperate in moving from analog to digital — a move expected to free up any unused spectrum. Digital occupies less radio spectrum.

Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, deputy director-general for the Telecommunications Sector at the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), and chair of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-18), said that the top pressing issues at the event include over-the-top (OTT) technology, which refers to devices that stream media directly to viewers over the internet, artificial intelligence (AI), internet governance, cybersecurity, big data and telecom regulations.

“We are moving towards a new world of [the] Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new concept,” he said. “We will very much rely on the technology and the transformation to the digital economy.”

Tareq Al Awadi, executive director for spectrum management at the TRA and chairman for the Arab group, said that the Arab region wants the ITU to take a role, study and put a definition on OTT and how OTT has to be dealt with by the countries.

“If we put regulation to the OTT sector, the innovation will stop. The OTT players have bought innovation and it is not the telecom players. However, in reliance on the technology, we need to add the security element for privacy. We need to strike a balance with the OTT players,” Al Mesmar said.