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5G Rollout & Roadmap – Southeast Asia

Brent Endaya

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5G Rollout South East Asia

The future is wireless. The face of communication and connectivity has been changed forever through the Internet. It’s the backbone of all communications, transactions, social interactions, entertainment and employment nowadays.

But now, the backbone is straining due to the sheer number of users and data travelling through it. The growing pains of the prevalence and ubiquity of this Internet needs constant innovation and upgrade. 5G is one of those innovations.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation, the latest iteration among the generations of cellular communication networks. Compared to its predecessor 4G, 5G is at least 10 times faster, with a higher system capacity and better and wider device connectivity.

5G is also lower in cost and energy consumption. It was first developed to alleviate the strain on the now overcrowded 4G network and bandwidth.

5G provides new, fast and specific lanes for internet traffic which would make it like an expressway for mobile connectivity. But 5G is not just a glorified fast highway for mobile users, it is also the linchpin for present and upcoming tech innovations to be implemented.

The future technological advancements have significant effects on the economy, the business landscape and the way of life for the consumers and businesses of the SEA countries. Let’s go through it one by one.

E-sports and Gaming

Since 2017, the legitimacy of e-sports has been validated. With huge cash prizes and many companies investing and advertising on it, it is now a fairly new and thriving industry. South East Asian (SEA) countries have large communities supporting e-sports and gaming.

Tech regarding AR and VR would likely help to gain even more widespread acceptance of e-sports and gaming in general. E-sports not only is an industry on itself, it also helps countries on their tourism as E-sports and gaming events have a massive global audience.

Drone Tech Applications

Indonesia has already started to test using drones for their agriculture. Drones can capture a wide range of data through their built in camera for real time analysis. It could get details of the plantation, weather and soil conditions. This will only be possible with 5G’s robust and fast connection.

The same technology can also be used for traffic monitoring and crowd control which have been already tested. Drones can analyze the situation while alerting the authorities which could make an expedient and efficient response. While on the way, the authorities would have already assessed the situation and make plans to solve the situation while maintaining full surveillance of the area. This is integral for SEA to start building Smart Cities.

Autonomous Driving, Smart Cities, IoT

Driverless car experimentation is still ongoing today and it looks like it would take a year or at most 11 years from now according to the top 11 automakers. 5G could help make the process faster.

Smart Cities on the other hand is being looked upon by some of the SEA countries as it goes hand-in-hand with the autonomous driving tech. It could invite large investments by tech giants and automotive companies from the West.

The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is growing larger and larger since it was started to be used within homes. Smart homes and smart home tech are the new buzzwords regarding consumer electronics. This is going to be vital as 5G would make it easier for households to accept this tech.

Southeast Asian households nowadays are moving into being tech-savvy and it is going to be a new potential for electronic companies in SEA to take advantage of.

Industry 4.0

The fourth industrial revolution. It will synthesize Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT and the cloud to make manufacturing and production easier, more efficient, more streamlined and more flexible than ever. It will be also be more economical and cost-effective.

Most SEA countries are looking into adapting new tech to make manufacturing and production cheaper and more efficient. Autonomy is not only beneficial for cars, it would also help manufacturing and production with the use robots for safer and more precise work. Once 5G has been rolled-out, even smaller companies will be able to use robotics in their assembly line.

Pros and Cons of 5G

We’ve now seen the possibilities of having 5G and its effect on SEA countries. Let’s now dive in deeper to see the pros and cons of 5G.

Pros

Profits

5G tech and applications could spell huge amounts of revenue in the global market. Asia, in general, is emerging as a new technological hub, a digital powerhouse, and it would definitely be a competitive edge from an economic standpoint. If SEA pushes through with the rollout of 5G this 2020, it would drive investments from all over the world and the Asia would be the one to lead the tech industry.

Way of Life

Most of the benefits on the surface of 5G is targeted towards consumers. Faster mobile internet access, using IoT in their homes, driverless cars, smart cities, and so on. It will shift the lifestyle of the consumer more into the integration of smart things in their home. Technology is basically trying to think of solutions to make life easier.

Creating Jobs

Since the rollout needs infrastructure, testing and maintenance, telecommunication companies are needing manpower for these kinds of jobs especially on the back end. It will create more jobs for the fast-growing tech industry.

Connectivity

5G can also help to reach out rural areas that don’t have mobile internet connection before.

5G Connectivity Wireless Symbol

Cons

Costs

We were talking about all these possibilities if 5G was eventually rolled out. But the cost of having the infrastructure to support a 5G network, especially if it’s going to be implemented nationwide is going to be astronomical. It would take the support of the government for teleco companies to roll out the 5G network.

5G Network Tower Poles Infrastructure

In order to make the connection to rural areas possible, it requires more infrastructure. The 5G spectrum, even though 5G can use 3 separate bands on it’s spectrum, has basically a short range, so to make the range wider, even more infrastructure will be needed. It’s going to be a lot of work and lots of manpower. It ain’t gonna be a cuppa.

Security

Data breaches are frequently happening right now and it is definitely a significant consideration to the implementation of 5G. The largest company that will make the rollout possible are the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. Based on the news, there are some countries who banned Huawei’s support due to fears of espionage and cybersecurity breaches.

Loss of Jobs

If the 5G rollout resulted in Industry 4.0, it would generate new jobs regarding tech but it would kick out manual labor. Industry 4.0 aims to use full automation for the whole manufacturing process so that it would be more reliable, more streamlined, cheaper and more consistent. Industry 4.0 would choose robots over humans and it could lead to a massive loss of employment.

New jobs will be created, but those jobs will be targeted towards the young graduates who finished a degree with an emphasis on technical and digital skills. Most of the people who does manual labor would struggle to absorb these new things just now. They could end up jobless with a handicap to learn the new industries that 5G will bring.

Futureproofing

To be ready for the future is always a huge investment. However, the benefits of being ready far outweighs the cost of preparing. 5G is the connective tissue that holds so much of the future tech. With SEA preparing to be the pioneers of 5G, it will definitely have a seismic shift on the global tech industry towards Asia and it will be an outpouring of investments for SEA and the whole of Asia.

Singapore Skyline 5G Rollout

SEA needs to be extremely careful as data breaches are not only going to be costly for companies if affected, it could also be a national security threat. With the ongoing political actions of China, SEA countries would want to be careful in handling the negotiations regarding Huawei and the rollout of 5G.

SEA should also take into consideration the changes that this 5G revolution will bring about. 5G is the catalyst pushing mankind deeper in to a digital ecosystem. Change is inevitable, so are growing pains. SEA should be ready for that.

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