LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MENA, DUBAI: Kamal Sameer Shehadi, chief legal and regulatory officer at Etisalat International (pictured, second from left), warned regulators against approaching 5G as an extension of 3G and 4G, insisting a focus on price regulation over data privacy and cybersecurity would create an unhealthy ecosystem.

Speaking on a panel, Shehadi said it was time to acknowedge 5G not only posed challenges to vendors and operators, but also regulators, arguing it was time to go back “to the first principles” when forming policy.

“Why do we regulate and what do we regulate?” he asked. “In the past it was about providing fair resources. Today that situation is pretty stable in most markets around the world where industries are investing in 5G. It now requires regulators and policy makers to take their foot off the pedal and deregulate. Focus on what is important.”

Data privacy and cybersecurity are the “challenges of the future” and adequately addressing these concerns could also help operators compete with OTT players, which have notably struggled in these areas.

To tailor 5G policy mainly on price regulation, as has been the case with 3G and 4G, would therefore be a mistake, he argued.

“It is no longer about price regulation. I find it disheartening in some markets to see regulators agonising over how harshly they should regulate the price of 5G.”

“Pricing 5G is not the same thing as the pricing of 3G and 4G. If you approach it in this way, you have missed the revolution part of 5G.”

Andrew Hanna, CCO of Omantel (pictured, far left) concurred, adding while the company hasn’t yet launched 5G, it was an opportunity it has been waiting for and “there was chance to get the model right”.

“If it was a straight-out model like we had with 4G we will miss the point completely. We will be here in three- or four-years time saying we haven’t been able to monetise 5G properly.”