BUDAPEST: Hungary could launch high-speed 5G mobile networks before the end of this year if plans remain on track, the head of the U.N. internet and telecoms agency said on Tuesday after speaking to the Hungarian prime minister.
Hungarian regulator NMHH published draft documentation in June for the sale of more than 400 megahertz of 5G spectrum for the next-generation wireless network that is expected to serve self-driving cars and real-time communication between machines.
Unlike some other regional states, Hungary has dismissed U.S. security concerns about 5G technology provided by Huawei, saying it would treat the Chinese firm like any other technology supplier.
International Telecommunication Union Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said he had asked Prime Minister Viktor Orban when 5G commercial service could be launched in Hungary.
"I was told that progress is quite good and if everything will be developed according to schedule, perhaps before end of this year Hungary will start 5G commercial services," Zhao said during a speech at ITU Telecom World Conference in Budapest.
The main mobile network operators in Hungary are Deutsche Telekom unit Magyar Telekom, Vodafone and Telenor.
The minister in charge of innovation and technology, Laszlo Palkovics, told the conference that Hungary aimed to wrap up 5G spectrum tenders by October and his ministry would then submit a strategy paper to the government on the applications of 5G.
Palkovics had said in June that Hungary aimed to start 5G services at major industrial sites in 2020 and said the network should cover all big cities and main transport routes by the middle of the next decade.
He told Reuters that 5G tenders could raise about 70 billion forints and also said Budapest was "very glad" major players in 5G technology, such as Huawei, were involved in Hungary in producing and designing systems.
Washington has led a global campaign to convince its allies to ban the world's top telecommunications equipment supplier from 5G mobile networks. Huawei has denied the U.S. allegations that its technology represents a security threat.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Edmund Blair)