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5G is the backbone of 4IR

While China and the US are pulled into trade wars and brawled over Chinese telecom company Huawei, South Korea has sneaked up on the ‘technology arms race’ and launched 5G network services coupled with the first 5G phone in the world – the Samsung S10.

BY TAN HUI XIAN, APB REPORTER

Yang Maeng-seog, vice-president at SK Telecom, South Korea’s biggest carrier, told the Straits Times of Singapore: “Being the first means a lot because it means we are the first to lay the entire 5G infrastructure, having overcome lots of technological difficulties through collaboration between telecom, phone and gear companies.”

Hot on its heels is Verizon, a US-based telecommunication company which rolled out its 5G services a week ahead of schedule in Chicago and Minneapolis to remain competitive.

The competition is intense as 5G is deemed as the backbone of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR); for Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, AI, blockchain and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) to work seamlessly together, the network has to perform at a high speed with ultra-low latency.

5G will realise the dreams of broadcasters

The success of 5G will transform the entire communication-enabled industry. According to an EY’s case study, Huawei has partnered with Softbank to demonstrate real-time UHD video transmission with a throughput of 800Mbps, as well as completed the trial for world’s first UHD IPTV over 5G fixed wireless access.

With fast mobile broadband network, broadcasters will be able to produce, transmit and monitor programmes in real time. This enables viewers to view video everywhere through ultra-fast network. However, broadband alone will not be able to provide the immersive experience; 5G requires dedicated devices and app design to proliferate.

Challenges in implementing 5G

5G network was introduced in 2017 as a disruptive technology, but the implementation of 5G network is slow as it requires infrastructural change.

5G New Radio (NR), also known as mmWave, is a wireless radio interface that expands current mid-band frequencies (4G); it will vastly improve throughput and introduce new spectrum of offerings and capacities.

To support the mmWave development, the telecommunications industry has to work with government agencies to invest and build new product architecture.

Image Source: EY’s case study on 5G

Fibre will still be the key into activating 5G network in front-haul and backhaul. Moving from mid-band (4G) to high-band frequencies (5G) implies a multiple increase in cell density. This will add more strain onto the current transport network that connects to Radio Access Network (RAN). Cloud RAN is then introduced to enable service providers to relocate the base station equipment to the cloud.

Thus, price is one of the biggest hindrances in a massive 5G deployment. In 2017, Accenture Strategy analysis estimated that wireless operators in the US would have to invest around US$275 billion over seven years to roll out 5G.

5G will power IoT and redefine multiple verticals of industries. The billions of IoT devices – wireless sensors, connected homes, smart meters, smart agriculture — communicating with each other will spark innovation and change our way of lives.

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