Call for Papers: Special issue: Innovation in 5G technology: leadership, competition and policy issues



Event Date: 


Location name: 



FSR Communications & Media

Special issue: Innovation in 5G technology: leadership, competition and policy issues


Background and Motivation

The debate regarding the 5G development, implementation and disruptiveness is gathering growing attention. This new mobile infrastructure will provide the basis for digitization in many areas of our lives, hence influencing a broad spectrum of sectors (Cave, 2018, Campbell et al., 2017; Rao et al., 2018). The full realisation of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is often called the next Industrial Revolution, relies on 5G development. IoT can be described as a globally distributed network (or networks) of physical objects that are capable of sensing or acting on their environment and that are able to communicate with each other. At present, its adoption is accelerating across different sectors (transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, etc.) where an abundance of smart, connected devices and platforms that are integrated into a wide range of applications, are emerging. As a consequence, interoperability stands out as a key concept in the current policy debates concerning the digital economy, since the expected benefits of the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 hinge on smooth “communication” between objects, networks, software and data.

While IoT adoption is maturing in Europe, with the IoT industry’s spending estimates reaching 127 billion of Euros in 2019, the debates related to the 5G leadership are on fire on both sides of the Atlantic. Key concerns emerge because of the growing complexity of 5G technology, which may act as a barrier to new entrants, and because of the vast amount of resources needed to access the growing numbers of patented technologies that are involved in the development of 5G.

In this respect, it is not yet clear how many actors really hold the necessary capabilities, and how difficult it may be for others to acquire ownership of, or access to, them. These aspects may also have policy and strategic implications, both in term of geopolitics and industrial competitiveness, not to mention in relation to national security (Brake, 2018).

The current landscape sees a handful of companies actively involved in the development of the 5G standard and there is an increasing debate regarding who is really leading the development of this technology. Many studies rely on the simple counting of patents to determine who are the leaders in 5G development (see, as example, Pohlmann et al., 2020). However, there is not consensus both on the methodologies used and on the leadership (Noble et al., 2019; Tsilikas, 2020). These issues, of course have an impact also on the actual competition on 5G development, reducing the access opportunity of lagging behind countries and on the different policies developed by leading or lagging countries.

Objectives and Topics

For the aforementioned reasons, it is timely to publish a special issue on these topics in Telecommunications Policy, which has published seminal papers on the implications of 5G networks, the spectrum access and auction, all themes relevant for both scholars, policy makers and practitioners. We believe that an assessment of the leadership of the 5G development, the actual competition and the related policy issues, can yield new theoretical and empirical insights on 5G development.

The special issue welcome theoretical and empirical contributions, using either quantitative or qualitative methods at both micro- or macro-levels of analysis. Interdisciplinary research is especially encouraged and are welcome papers following recent areas of research such as the leadership in the 5G technology (Noble et al., 2019; Tsilikas, 2020) or the role of 5G and sustainability (West, 2016; Masoudi et al., 2019).

Possible themes that may be explored are, but are not limited to:

  • The rise of 5G competition;
  • Innovation in 5G, the relevance of patents;
  • Leadership in 5G development;
  • Policy issues on 5G competition;
  • 5G and sustainability;
  • 5G and green new deal;
  • The relevance of 5G for IoT

Important Dates

  • Paper submission: 31 March 2021
  • First round of external reviews: 15 May, 2021
  • Submission of revised papers: 15 July, 2021
  • Second round of external reviews: 1 September, 2021
  • Final acceptance: 15 October, 2021
  • Publication: November, 2021

Submission Guidelines

Papers should follow the standard guidelines of Telecommunications Policy and they will be selected competitively according to their intrinsic quality. All papers will be subject to a standard refereeing process.

Telecommunications Policy website for on-line submission:

Choose Special Issue “Innovation in 5G technology” as Article Type in the drop down menu. Journal information can be found at: Authors’ guidelines are available at: Only original submissions will be considered, not submitted in parallel elsewhere.

Guest Editors

Prof. Pier Luigi Parcu (Managing Guest Editor, European University Institute)

Prof. Maria Alessandra Rossi (Guest Editor, University of Chieti-Pescara)

Prof. Timothy J. Brennan (Guest Editor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County)


Cave, M. (2018). How disruptive is 5G? Telecommunications Policy, 42 (8), 653-658.

Campbell, K., Diffley, J., Flanagan, B., Morelli, B., O’Neil, B., & Sideco, F. (2017). The 5G economy: How 5G technology will contribute to the global economy. In IHS Economics and IHS Technology. Qualcomm Technologies.

Rao, S. K., & Prasad, R. (2018). Impact of 5G technologies on industry 4.0. Wireless Personal Communications, 100 (1), 145-159.

Brake, D. (2018). Economic Competitiveness and National Security Dynamics in the Race for 5G between the United States and China. TPRC 46: The 46th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2018.

Pohlmann, T., Blind, K., & Heß, P. (2020). Fact finding study on patents declared to the 5G standard. iPlytics.

West, D. M. (2016). Achieving sustainability in a 5G world. Executive Summary atB-Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings, 1-16.

Masoudi, M., Khafagy, M. G., Conte, A., El-Amine, A., Françoise, B., Nadjahi, C., ... & Bodere, D. (2019). Green mobile networks for 5G and beyond. IEEE Access7, 107270-107299.

Noble, M., Mutimear, J., & Vary, R. (2019). Determining which companies are leading the 5G race. Wireless TechnologyIAM-Media.

Tsilikas, H. (2020). To Make Effective 5G IP Decisions Policy-Makers Need the Full Picture. IAM-media.