Saturday, August 9, 2014

Public-Private partnership and the landmark EU-Korea 5 G agreement

5G or next generation mobile broadband service is a hot topic in industry and government circles these days, despite the large technical and policy issues it presents.  In January of this year, as noted in an earlier post, the Korean government declared its intention to be a world leader in 5G mobile communication.  In June of this year, the Korean government signed a landmark agreement with the European Union to cooperate on the development and implementation of 5G and issued a joint declaration to that effect.   As shown in the accompanying graphic (click to see a full size version), the EU's 5G Infrastructure Association has adopted the theme "public private partnership," which also happens to be a hallmark of South Korea's ICT-led socioeconomic development beginning around 1980.
In describing the new EU-Korea agreement, Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda  commented that "5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and South Korea recognise this. This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardisation. Today’s declaration signals our commitment to being global digital leaders.”
I searched in vain for news of any similar agreement involving Korea and the United States, and found no rough equivalent of the Korea-EU agreement. Perhaps history is going to repeat itself, for lack of government leadership or the inability to forge a genuine public-private partnership in the U.S.  I recently viewed former Vice President Al Gore's keynote speech to industry leaders at the 1994 Information Superhighway Summit in Los Angeles.  Korea started its highly successful, decade long Korea Information Infrastructure program the following year, with government leadership but also active industry involvement and facilities-based competition.  Over the same decade, relatively little was done to build a national fiber optic infrastructure in the U.S.  It would seem that one of the reasons for this was the inability of government to lead and industry in the U.S. to actively collaborate in constructing an essential infrastructure for the 21st century.

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