“5G and Beyond: The Latest in Telecommunications Law”: Program Review

  • March 29, 2021
  • Karin Kazakevich

In February, the OBA Entertainment, Media and Communications Law Section hosted a topical CPD session titled “5G and Beyond: The Latest in Telecommunications Law”. The current chair of the Section, Vitali Berd (senior regulatory legal counsel, Telus) and Section Executive members Emma Romano (associate, WeirFoulds LLP) and Julia Sydorenko (associate, WeirFoulds LLP) co-hosted the event. The session was divided into three engaging panel discussions on 5G wireless networks and their corresponding legal issues, the current debate on wholesale rates, and significant case law updates.

Bruce Rodin (vice president wireless network strategy, Bell Canada) and James Kosa (associate, WeirFoulds LLP) hosted the first panel and discussed recent Canadian developments in 5G. This new generation network has the ability to tailor service delivery and speed to optimize various applications and use cases. By dynamically trading off parts of the network to optimize others, 5G can improve internet service speeds and reduce latency. Despite its prospective benefits, the expansion of 5G also ushers in new legal considerations that lawyers must turn their mind to. For example, standard tech contracts will need to adapt to reflect constant technical innovation and the mass multi-party cooperation required by 5G. With dynamic metrics, measuring performance and contracting service levels may also prove difficult in the 5G context. The installation of additional transceivers and fibres to support the network may trigger legal considerations from a municipal, property and construction law perspective as well. Further, 5G's interconnectivity highlights privacy and security concerns while the potential for failure in the network may produce product/service liability issues. With the exciting upcoming spectrum auction in the 3.5 GHz band, it will be fascinating to track 5G’s continued expansion and its interaction with the law.