Entering a new world of 5G
LOOKING BACK, the world today looks completely different from how it was a few decades ago, so much it could be taken as an entirely different world altogether. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is the digital revolution that has been slowly building momentum since the middle of the last century, is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Nothing illustrates this revolution more than telecommunications and the advent of 5G technology. In the Philippines alone, information and communications technology (ICT) has allowed for much of the country’s growth through the development of the business process outsourcing or BPO sector, and has buoyed the economy through the COVID-19 pandemic via rapid digitalization.
Yet, a report made by network performance analytics firm Opensignal found that download speeds in the Philippines have increased tenfold when comparing newer 5G connections to 4G late last year, with a recorded average 5G download speed of 117.2 Mbps. The Philippines is second to Thailand in 5G vs. 4G download speed improvement, but ranks the highest globally in terms of video experience improvement, with a 77.1 score – a 40% improvement over its 4G video experience score.
5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology, promising to not just offer up to 100 times the speed and 1,000 times the capacity of today’s mobile networks, but provide ultra-reliability, low latency, reduced energy use, and massive connectivity both inside and outside of buildings. The impact of this, naturally, is exponential.
“The promise of 5G has been echoed throughout the business world for years. 5G’s faster speed, lower latency and ability to connect vastly higher numbers of devices than previous generations of mobile technology offered executives a glimpse of a more efficient and productive future,” Wilson Chow, partner at PwC China, said in a report.
“By providing the basis for ubiquitous ultra-fast broadband, 5G opens up possibilities far beyond the reach of 4G or Wi-Fi 6. This promise has only grown more critical today as leaders consider how best to repair, rethink, and reconfigure their business for the post–COVID-19 world.”
According to the report, titled The Global Economic Impact of 5G, 5G is estimated to generate $330 billion for the global GDP via applications in smart utilities management by 2030. Looking at the world’s biggest economies, an estimated $15 billion could be added to the U.S. economy by utilizing 5G in industrial manufacturing by 2030, and $44 billion is seen to be added to the Chinese economy by 5G applications in healthcare by the same year.
“As 5G’s adoption and rollout accelerate, we can begin to quantify the technology’s potential impact in economic terms. Drawing on expert insight and using economic modelling, we started at the use-case level to assess what that impact will be. We focused on five industries — healthcare, smart utilities, consumer and media, industrial manufacturing, and financial services — that stand to benefit significantly from 5G technology and calculated what that benefit could look like through 2030,” Mr. Chow said.
“As with any such analysis, the absolute figures can only be directional and are most interesting when looked at in relation to one another. More than 80% of the economic potential appears to lie in healthcare applications (projected to contribute $530 billion to global GDP), smart utilities management (an additional $330 billion), and consumer and media applications ($254 billion more).”
He added that smaller contributions from the other industries in the study bring the total estimated uplift to as much as $1.3 trillion.
To successfully seize the potential offered by the new technology, PwC suggested that organizations, both policymakers and business enterprises, consider a strategic approach to its use — that is, by having a clear view of 5G’s use cases that will deliver the greatest value over time.
This means factoring in 5G technology into their strategies and plan ahead in steps. The first step is to repair the damage of COVID-19 by making 5G act as a catalyst for digitalization. Regulators and policy-makers, the report said, should set the scene by being open to a wide range of 5G use cases, such as telemedicine and self-driving vehicles.
For businesses, collaboration is key. leaders will need to take stock of their business models and processes, and closely consider how 5G can enable improvements and opportunities by working with partners in a wide array of industries, including technology, media and retail to combine 5G with other enabling technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
For policy-makers and governments, the report continued, 5G should be seen as the key to fundamental societal infrastructure: a platform that, by providing ubiquitous, superfast broadband, will influence the competitiveness of nations’ economies and their ability to develop their own sunrise industries and technologies. Policy-makers then should look to encourage and provide incentives for 5G investments as quickly as possible.
“As leaders contemplate the decade ahead, 5G demands strategic attention — both to where and how it can create competitive advantages, and to the implementation and integration imperatives that must be met for it to generate value,” Mr. Chow said. —
“By providing the basis for ubiquitous ultra-fast broadband, 5G opens up possibilities far beyond the reach of 4G or Wi-Fi 6. This promise has only grown more critical today as leaders consider how best to repair, rethink and reconfigure their business for the post–COVID-19 world.”