Are the fears about 5G reasonable?
Federal Councilor Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Adi Gross (Greens, Vorarlberg): Madam President! High house! Minister! There is no doubt that digitization is one of the major megatrends of this century. Certainly no economy can afford not to be part of it.
Corona times in particular have shown the opportunities, for example, in a high-performance communication infrastructure. It was the same for me. I also had my doubts about the functionality and usability of video conferences, and during the Corona period I had several video conferences a day. Today I have to say: there is a lot going on. I hope this is an example that will last, at least in part. But what has also been shown: It only works if the structure is appropriately efficient.
Austria has set very ambitious goals for itself in the government program with regard to digitization and has recorded a number of strategies, for example a pioneering role in 5G, a forced broadband strategy. The latter - we are always debating this here - offers great opportunities, especially for spaces that are outside of metropolitan areas.
It is not for nothing that the European Commission has given digitization a high priority in the proposal for the recovery program, which will hopefully be decided this week.
As is known, the frequency auction for the expansion of the new 5G technology should have taken place in April. It has now been postponed to August due to the corona crisis, but not only was there a time shift, but economic uncertainties also arose for the companies concerned.
This is exactly what the present proposal for an amendment to the Telecommunications Act takes into account in two ways: On the one hand, financing is to be made easier for providers or operators - this is how the expansion is to be accelerated. On the other hand, the second benefit that should occur - this is of course a legitimate request - is that the state sells the corresponding license as profitably as possible.
Specifically, it is actually about a provision that creates the possibility of granting installment payment options at the auctions or deferring the offers. The condition is that you trade at least 50 million euros. That's actually the heart of the matter anyway. That's a reasonable story.
Although this is not the framework for a fundamental debate on digitization, I would like to make two brief comments that I find important: One concerns the concerns associated with digitization, for example with regard to the medium and long-term effects on jobs. We think that is really to be taken very seriously and, in my opinion, sooner or later it will certainly lead to intensive discussions about the qualification of workers, about the distribution of work and, of course, above all about the question of how we will govern in the future Finance services. If that can be the case less about work, which is to be assumed, it will have to be done in a different way somehow. The debate is pending and is certainly very exciting and definitely to be conducted.
A second thing I would like to touch on: Many people are also worried about the potential health effects of the 5G expansion. You can see it one way or the other now, but that's just there. We think that this question needs to be addressed with education, evidence-based, and a scientific basis. In this respect, it is an important message that I would like to add that it is stipulated in the government program that a technology assessment should be carried out on 5G mobile communications with a view to health. In this respect, I ask for approval of the proposed law, i.e. not to raise any objection. - Thanks. (Applause from the Greens and ÖVP.)
President Dr. Andrea Eder-Gitschthaler:The next to speak is Ms. Federal Councilor Mag.a Marlene Zeidler-Beck. - Please, Ms. Federal Councilor, I'll give it to you.
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