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05 February, 2023
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Divided Cyprus clears band for 5G across divide

Island’s leaders agree to set aside frequency but superpower trade wars could pose another challenge


A low frequency band that can deliver a better 5G experience to home users will be freed up on both sides of divided Cyprus, but the milestone agreement reached by the two communities could be overshadowed by ongoing 5G wars overseas.

A UN statement on Friday said the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in Cyprus have confirmed an agreement that will “make way for the introduction of 5G across the island.”

The two sides agreed that broadcasting systems will be removed from the 700 MHz frequency band as part of transitioning to digital television, according to UN officials, who added the removal of TV broadcasting systems from that frequency in Cyprus will take place with support from the European Union, “allowing the allocation of the 700 MHz frequency band to 5G mobile services.”

While the low-band can have limitations on expanding demands to push more data, the frequency is less susceptible to interference from things like walls and weather conditions, making the signal ideal for many home users.

But implementing a bicommunal deal is easier said than done due to Cyprus’ division but also because of 5G wars between China and western countries.

UN officials said it has taken two years for members of a bicommunal technical committee on broadcasting and telecommunication to tackle the issue before the two sides could come to an agreement.

Greek Cypriot companies are rumored to have joined a Clean Network prompting some in the south to backtrack on deals with Huawei, but Turkish companies in the north have yet to be persuaded

But Cyprus has also been feeling the pressure over 5G technology as a trade war between superpowers continues to dominate the industry.

Last year Greek Cypriot companies on the island were rumored to have joined Washington’s “Clean Network,” prompting some companies in the south to backtrack on deals with Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant seen as a threat by US officials.

The United States has been pressuring allies to exclude Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, warning Nicosia and others that the Chinese company could spy on customers for Beijing.

Former US under secretary Keith Krach, who visited Nicosia last October, said it was “essential that the United States and the Republic of Cyprus work together as trusted partners to protect our citizens from those companies and countries we deem untrustworthy.”

But companies in the Turkish Cypriot north, which is only recognized by Ankara, have yet to be persuaded by US officials to drop Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker.

Last year Turkish telecoms company Turkcell and Huawei signed further agreements, with an official from Huawei Turkey saying the Chinese company was a “reliable business partner” and their partnership was set to continue.

Two months ago in September, senators wrote to US State Secretary Antony Blinken asking for more clarification on President Joe Biden’s efforts against Huawei and overall intentions regarding the Clean Network initiative.

The senators urged Blinken to “combat Huawei as a whole and target each of the company’s commercial units.”

While no agreement has been reached between north and south on 5G network operability in Cyprus, the bicommunal deal was seen as a way for the two communities to reach at least some degree of interoperability between the two networks.

Cyprus  |  Greek  |  Turkish  |  Cypriot  |  UN  |  5G  |  telecoms  |  internet of things  |  low band  |  bicommunal  |  Clean Network

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