The 5G Revolution and What It Means for Asia

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How Will 5G Revolutionise Our Lives and What Does It Mean for Asia?

There have been plenty of discussions concerning 5G technology. Widely reported in the media, various factors surrounding this fifth generation technology have been brought forward, with experts weighing in on the pros and cons of this upcoming phenomenon.

However, despite everything, the advent of 5G throughout the world is inevitable. As of January 2020, Viavi Solutions reported that 34 countries have deployed this technology across 378 cities, and two Asian countries, South Korea and China, are leading the pack. According to a study done by the Korea Economic Institute of America in March 2020, this fifth generation technology had been deployed across 85 cities by the end of 2019, covering areas where 90% of the country’s population resides, and the government had “set a target of reaching 100% domestic coverage within the next 2–3 years”.

According to a study by Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2019, half of all mobile connections in northeast Asia will utilise 5G technology by the year 2025, while ASEAN countries, according to Nikkei Asian Review, will see 40% penetration by 2025. It is estimated that with the implementation of 5G, the Asian region can expect to see a contribution of almost $900 billion to the economy in the next 15 years. With all the positive expectations that come from this technology, it can be said that lives will be revolutionised by 5G, but how?

What can consumers expect from 5G technology?

Firstly, this fifth generation technology will be significantly faster than its predecessors, allowing for seamless data transmission, but how will this benefit consumers? The range of applications utilising 5G will be endless, and consumers can expect to see its potential in significantly faster upload and download speeds in mobile and wireless applications, and in smart cities operating on the technology. With several Asian countries having made the list of the world’s most technologically advanced countries in the US News and World 2020 Best Countries Report, including Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and China, Asian consumers stand to benefit greatly once 5G is deployed.

Asia has an exponentially growing number of internet users, and countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and Japan make up a large number of these users, ranking top ten in the world.

In a survey done by Ericsson regarding potential 5G consumers, it was stated that “half of smartphone users in South Korea and Australia … claim mobile broadband speeds are not fast enough” and complain of patchy connections, especially in megacities with their high numbers of mobile users. However, this is an issue that 5G technology will be able to resolve, as mobile and wireless consumers can expect data transmission that is 20 times faster than 4G technology currently provides. This will allow users to enjoy online videos on sites such as YouTube and Netflix in 4K, or upload and download content quickly while on the move.

Aside from the benefits 5G offers to mobile and wireless applications, consumers will also see its benefits in their day-to-day lives as this technology becomes ubiquitous. Many across the world became familiar with the concept of remote working when Covid-19 became a pandemic, and applications such as Zoom and Skype were used to connect employees. However, with 5G’s high speeds and low latency, in years to come the concept of remote working will take on a whole different meaning, as augmented-reality devices will allow co-workers to share the same virtual spaces. Things like online shopping or sightseeing will also be taken to the next level, as people will have the freedom to explore malls and museums, among other places, virtually.

Additionally, 5G technology will enhance the way businesses operate, especially those adopting the Internet of Things (IoT), as efficiency and communication will be improved significantly. It will also give rise to smart cities that will allow consumers to embrace a realm of interconnectivity never seen before.

What does this mean for Asia?

Over the years, Asia has seen many implementations of technologies in its communities, such as cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence, robotics, and more. However, what is being implemented now can be considered to be just the ‘surface’, as many of these systems can be taken to the next level – something 5G technology will achieve.

Asia stands to gain significantly from this technology, as the development of 5G will reshape the ways many developing Asian nations operate. While it is clear that technologically advanced nations will be several steps ahead, with a proper policy framework in place, this fifth-generation technology can be used to help agricultural societies, such as those in Indonesia and Thailand, with precise farming, or to help reduce the environmental footprint of the entire region.

It can also be used to improve the overall quality of life of people in developing nations, as this technology will give them access to telemedicine, especially those in rural areas with no proper access to hospitals. However, it is to be noted that this will only be feasible if governments implement the necessary blueprints to make this transition, as seen in the case study of South Korea, which went from being a developing nation to one that is paving the way for 5G adoption.