Technology on Overdrive
We can all relate now to the impact of Covid 19 on “face to face” activities across society. Enter the realm of telecommunications and how it has helped those in society with the appropriate technology overcome the required issues such as “social distancing” and working remotely. However, the same event showed that there is an urgent need for telecoms infrastructure to be upgraded and expanded.
Namibia via one of its telecommunications providers has 2.6 million active subscribers (91% market share) as per their 2021 Company Profile and has 4.5G networks in major towns and the Capital city Windhoek. It is still migrating customers and their equipment that is 2G and 3G to 4.5G. The provider has also acknowledged that only 36% of its current base stations (2020 Annual Report) have 4G or greater technology which means that as per their estimates, some NAD 350 million to convert and expand site coverage.
6G or sixth generation wireless networks are now mooted to be on the way and overtake the current 5G and 4G networks that are still to be fully rolled as we go to print. 6G is the successor to 5G cellular technology and this creates a number of challenges for society even though the providers will state the benefits out way any negatives that could be identified. Some of its benefits listed for a smart society are self-driving cars, artificial intelligence interactions, security and health monitoring, remote and robotic surgery, emergency / disaster response and of course real-time video conferencing.
Time to reflect exists as 5G is only available in some countries as it is in its early development stages. Further, 6G networks have not yet been introduced, but most companies worldwide have shown interest in deploying the broadband cellular network in their commercial plans. While many studies are already looking into implementing the network in the future with a target date of 2030, reports claim the network will speed up many development processes saving a substantial amount of time compared to previous networks.
Forbes (via a Ron Nersesian piece – August 2021) points out that a number of breakthroughs are required before 6G can be a reality. Least of which is a clear set of policies, agreed global industry standards, meaningful cybersecurity, training of the next generation of engineers and prepare the public sector to use this resource for enhanced service delivery.
Is Africa ready for 6G or can it afford not to be?
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https://www.mtc.com.na/ https://mobiletrans.wondersha re.com/5g/6g-network.html https://www.forbes.com/ https://www.techtarget.com/se archnetworking/definition/6G