Business World

Entering a new world of 5G

- Biel M. Beltran

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.”

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