Asia Pacific is leading the way when it comes to 5G networks. That’s according to The Mobile Economy: Asia Pacific 2018, which finds the region will invest over $200 billion and have 60% of the world’s 5G coverage by 2025.
“The push for faster internet speeds through 5G will come from governments and industry regulators that realise its potential contribution toward a country’s economic growth and digital economy transformation,” says Frost & Sullivan Digital Transformation Industry Principal Quah Mei Lee.
A regional approach
Japan and Australia are among the countries pioneering 5G markets, with the former expected to showcase 5G as host of the 2020 Olympics. That means fans can enjoy access to all the action in 360-degrees, at 8k-definition, possibly in virtual reality. Japan has of course been a leader in mobile communications technology, although more recently has been hampered by capacity constraints. A McKinsey survey found low network speed to be ‘the main pain point of the current network’.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities have announced plans to auction its 5G spectrum. The announcement comes after a government-led launch of a 5G working group to ‘support Australia being well-placed to realise the benefits of 5G’.
Singapore is a hotbed of 5G-related activity, typified by the Singtel and Ericsson partnership. The two telecom giants will launch the city-state’s first 5G Centre of Excellence, ‘to facilitate 5G development and deployment’ and ‘enable advanced applications such as smart cities, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, and autonomous vehicles’.
The mobile-first approach
APAC is of course a world leader in mobile coverage. Over half the world’s mobile users are from the region, making it fertile ground for 5G technology. In many industries, it’s very much mobile-first. in China, banks have been supplanted by the likes of WePay and AliPay as preferred digital payment methods.
The 5G network offers high connectivity (speeds up to 20Gbps) and low latency (as low as 1 millisecond) – making it ideal for IoT (APAC is ‘the geographic region with the most IoT spending in 2018 – $312 billion’). From a population perspective, 5G offers a far higher connection density – up to 1 million connected devices per 0.38 square miles, compared to 4G’s 2,000 connected devices.
Challenges to overcome
While some APAC countries appear to have everything in place to capitalise on 5G, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome. Operators will have to find ways to satisfy customers who remain on 3G and 4G networks. There will also need to be new forms of data centres to handle the new 5G traffic – cloud-based for scalability and 5G-level connectivity. The clock is ticking…
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