CO - Techinnovation

Asia’s Plan To Leverage 5G Is Missing A Regional Strategy

Asia’s Plan To Leverage 5G Is Missing A Regional Strategy

The day the world’s first commercial 5G services promised a “great leap” is still crystal clear in my memory. I remember two things from that day. I was interviewed on the launch that took place days before the planned launch date “by order” and the two parties racing to launch were from countries known for sending innovation out into the world. As it happened, the day went down in history without many of the details on how the “great leap” would be achieved. It was the case that some people thought 5G would change the world and that was how most people came to hear about it even though many did not see an immediate need for it. Optimism was high within the telecoms industry but spectrum and new revenue streams were likely the reason behind the push for 5G. 

Fast forward two years to current day, the “great leap” is still up in the air seeking a safe landing with much of the earlier intense anticipation for 5G having been met with a dose of reality. It is hard to call it “hype” if going by the same standards used to assess 3G and 4G but no one can deny the remaining presence of an expectation gap. While we did expect 5G to go global eventually, we did not expect it to have made so much more progress and so fast. It feels like more has been achieved in these past two years than within the entire duration the industry has been tinkering with 4G. It is positive that the expectation gap with 5G is not as big as it used to be with 3G and 4G. People are slowly finding a need for 5G and lower per Gb pricing is just one example. 

It is still about need and timing

The COVID-19 pandemic put industries through a period where change was a necessity and 5G was within reach as part of the solution. However, to say that COVID-19 expedited 5G in totality is not entirely true. In fact, 5G development in certain areas e.g. new rollouts and standards development, was impacted by COVID-19 and only some verticals e.g. healthcare, have benefited immediately from 5G although change is on the horizon for many other verticals. It seems COVID-19 has made the justification for 5G, where there was one, stronger. For example, 5G was on track pre-COVID-19 to solve the issue of lack of staff, regardless of whether it was due to qualification, location or cost, with automation. With COVID-19, necessity was added to the list – as a shift to robotics, contactless and online was triggered to avoid close contact – and the timeline was brought forward. 

Complementary to 4G, 5G has every chance of succeeding 

Being software based and potentially open source and cloud based too, 5G offers flexibility with less complexity at more attractive per Gb price points. It is timely that OSS/BSS for 5G has finally caught up to remove bottlenecks in rolling out innovation and new business models and enable the necessary charging and billing functionality to aid in 5G monetization. The potential to enable new industries that have no legacy is tremendous. The latest release allows for the creation of more value added solutions and this can drive economic growth. When this happens, the technology adoption gap between develop and developing countries, and the corresponding per capita income gap will narrow. This is the outcome that local governments seek. As a complement to 4G, 5G fits nicely where it can power real time and mission critical solutions, especially from the cloud. For example, the Guangzhou 5G Smart Transportation City implementation powered by ZTE, China Mobile, the Guangzhou Municipal Transportation Bureau and 10+ other companies is now benefitting over 20 million people, various vertical industry players and local government agencies in Guangzhou City, China. 

If 5G is so great, what is slowing it down?

Everyone has to start somewhere. Some succeed and some fail. In a long journey, it is only a failure if we do not get it right before we reach the end. It will be a long journey with 5G. We have not yet succeeded. We face a supply and demand gap coupled with a host of execution challenges but there is still time for industry to get it right. On the supply side, we have overzealous techies that are very good at facilitating and enabling everything. Their favorite reasons for the slow progress with 5G are the lack of spectrum and the delay with the never ending evolution of standards. The chances are high that either 6G will extend backward or better 5G sequels such as 5G Advanced, 5.5G, 5.75G or 5.90G will be introduced. I wonder if it is really plausible for 5G to take off faster if we were able to focus all available spectrum in the world on 5G while we keep making it better.  

In my opinion, technology is only not good enough and spectrum is only not enough if one is not clear on what one is solving for. There are businesses that have solved needs with the most basic technology e.g. Rainforest Connection, and there are telco groups e.g. Telenor, that can do better on connectivity even with less spectrum than competitors. Within other verticals, there are companies that are doing well with designs that show understanding of future mobility needs e.g. Volkswagen. What is needed is greater understanding of current state e.g. with digitizing and digital transformation, and commercial considerations e.g. understanding that purging legacy technology to make way for new technology is never an easy sell. Business cases have to take into account the risks associated with high one time capital expenditure. Assuming costs are lowered with 5G, there are also regulations, people and process considerations. The use of the price of a human life as justification for 5G e.g. in mining in China, can help to sway the decision but it is a fact that long term change is being driven by regulation and not businesses volunteering to address human rights. 

Whilst the telecoms industry is now more realistic with use of technology and is applying it where it is needed e.g. Globe’s early implementation of FWA in 2019, 5G requires expertise in other verticals to understand where best to apply 5G. The business cases for 5G use cases are either too complex or too simple. The telcos now faces a dilemma. They need to decide where to focus, where to develop expertise in and where to stay a connectivity provider. Some say telcos are having an identity crisis. While there is some truth in that, there are also signs of desperation as cloud providers and third party private network providers encroach on the 5G pie. While they are not known for the expertise in creating solutions, the large players amongst them e.g. Singtel and Telekom Malaysia, do have the opportunity to sell the solutions to the enterprises that they already serve. The questions telcos need to answer are if they can get its value proposition and enterprise strategy clear, and from there, how will they scale. Telcos can no longer just sell to businesses who will buy. Strategy matters. 

The next stage of growth requires different skillsets 

In closing, I think that we are on the right path with 5G thanks to the dreamers, innovators, makers and doers of the world. I particularly would like to applaud Huawei for its Blade AAU and Openet for its Evolved Charging Suite 8.0. It is because a good plan can become a great plan with a few tweaks that I say that it is time for the visionary, strategists, disruptors and orchestrators to step forward and take on the task of sending this good work out into the world. The future with 5G is unfolding within a rapidly redefining world. The next stage will be bigger and broader, and it will need different skillsets to succeed. It is time for us to re-evaluate our 5G strategies to get it right. It is good that local governments support 5G. It would be ideal if Asia’s economies can benefit from a plan e.g. to “Make Asia Great” and a roadmap to leverage 5G because when the “great leap” lands on progress, we can all in retrospect appreciate the race to launch 5G that we won. 

  • Quah Mei Lee
    Quah Mei Lee
    Associate Director with the Frost & Sullivan ICT

    Quah Mei Lee is an Associate Director with the Frost & Sullivan ICT practice. She leads Mobile & Wireless Research for Asia-Pacific and focuses on telecoms and payments strategy. Supported by her expert team, she drives thought leadership in telecoms and payments strategy and mobile digital services research.

You May Also Like

Install These Free Security Tools Now!
Install These Free Security Tools Now!

Have you heard of intrusion detection systems? Also known as IDS, this software is often used to det...

Crowdfunding drives  unprecedented efficiency
Crowdfunding drives unprecedented efficiency

Crowdfunding has become the center of attention in the field of financing. It is also an increasingl...

Everything As a Service
Everything As a Service

Transition from Capex economy to Opex Economy World is in a transition from Macro to Micro. Granula...

IoT in Malaysia – 2019 Predictions
IoT in Malaysia – 2019 Predictions

The year 2014 is when Malaysians started to Google the term “IoT” and ever since, the hy...

The business case for 5G
The business case for 5G

As of 2018 ,33 MNOs have been involved in 5G trials within Asia Pacific, accounting for 44% of 77 tr...

A New Face On Digital Transformation: Engagement Innovation
A New Face On Digital Transformation: Engagement Innovation

Whether we believe it or not we are in the fourth industrial revolution – The Digital Revoluti...

Technology & Competitive Data Analysis More Money – More Competition; everyone wins
Technology & Competitive Data Analysis More Money – More Competition; everyone wins

Technology & Competition – More Money, Better Deal for Consumers & Companies – H...

Anatomy of Fintechs that’s redefining Financial services business models.
Anatomy of Fintechs that’s redefining Financial services business models.

On a weekend in 2013 during monsoon I invited my friend and his family for a dinner at my place. It ...

Blockchain Taxation
Blockchain Taxation

World has paid a heavy price for trust, transparency, controls and accountability. Globally there i...

Why Is CDR / CDNR So Important?
Why Is CDR / CDNR So Important?

Addressing the Fundamental Deficiency in Today’s Mainstream Cyber Security Strategies From Det...

CIO Business leadership - shifting from tech to business leadership
CIO Business leadership - shifting from tech to business leadership

CIOs are no longer technocrats, they are business enablers and crucial part of organisation. CIOs sh...

Ideas and Opinions | 5G as an Enabler of Smart Cities
Ideas and Opinions | 5G as an Enabler of Smart Cities

When 5G comes to mind these days, we think of “is this REALLY it?” and “have we re...

Lessons in Machine Learning
Lessons in Machine Learning

More organizations are using machine learning for competitive reasons, but their results are mixed. ...

The Changing DNA of the CIO CIO as Business Enabler
The Changing DNA of the CIO CIO as Business Enabler

The idea that the role of the CIO has now gone beyond technology and innovation related issues, and ...

Digital Indoor System: Critical Infrastructure for Digital Economic Transformation
Digital Indoor System: Critical Infrastructure for Digital Economic Transformation

Digital Indoor System: Critical Infrastructure for Digital Economic Transformation   Developme...

Today's Digital Miners
Today's Digital Miners

Today's Digital Miners I guess by now everyone of us who have read an article or two on digital...

Digital Transformation Readiness Test for Banks
Digital Transformation Readiness Test for Banks

Digital Transformation Readiness Test for Banks The questions banks need to try to answer to test ...

What is Machine Learning
What is Machine Learning

What is Machine Learning? According to Tom Mitchell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University has d...

Transformation of industry verticals through 5G – Focus and Look Indoors 
Transformation of industry verticals through 5G – Focus and Look Indoors 

Transformation of industry verticals through 5G – Focus and Look Indoors  Now that 5G is...

Humanize Technology - back to the basics of serving human needs, humanly
Humanize Technology - back to the basics of serving human needs, humanly

Humanize Technology - back to the basics of serving human needs, humanly The subjects of Digital Tr...

Creating the foundation for Sustainable Innovation
Creating the foundation for Sustainable Innovation

Creating the foundation for Sustainable Innovation In 2011, Marc Andreessen famously proclaimed tha...

About Tech Data Diversity And Inclusion
About Tech Data Diversity And Inclusion

About Tech Data Diversity And Inclusion I am excited about attending the Hispanic IT Executive Coun...

Digital Transformation: Customer Centricity & Intimacy
Digital Transformation: Customer Centricity & Intimacy

Digital Transformation: Customer Centricity & Intimacy It was inspiring listening to IMD Profess...

Is Industry 5.0 putting humans back in the center
Is Industry 5.0 putting humans back in the center

Industry 4.0 focused on the machines. Is Industry 5.0 putting humans back in the center? I was on a...

Importance of IT Resilience
Importance of IT Resilience

Importance of IT Resilience Disclaimer: The posting written here is solely of my own comment and ...

Implementing a SaaS Solution – The 3 Major Technical Challenges
Implementing a SaaS Solution – The 3 Major Technical Challenges

So when are you planning to implement a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution? Very soon, if not alr...

So you want an #Innovation Hub?
So you want an #Innovation Hub?

Innovation, Design Thinking, Digital, Disruption, Agile, Transformation - these are new buzz words t...

The Unsung Hero; The Data Scientist
The Unsung Hero; The Data Scientist

It is quite likely you are wondering ‘what on earth’ am I on - for cooking up such a tit...

How POC projects made me a better Project Manager
How POC projects made me a better Project Manager

How did I get here? Project Management is a tough job. We need to keep a track on budgets, timeline...

How Data and AI can help in COVID-19 crisis
How Data and AI can help in COVID-19 crisis

Since the first report of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China, it has spread to at least 100 othe...

Building thriving business partnerships with Open API
Building thriving business partnerships with Open API

Apple and Google recently collaborated to assist in enabling contact tracing and reducing the spread...

The Future of Indoors with Digital Indoor Systems
The Future of Indoors with Digital Indoor Systems

Digital Transformation, 5G, and COVID-19 have triggered further growth in indoor traffic Digital tr...

Seizing Opportunities in the ICT Sector
Seizing Opportunities in the ICT Sector

The Increased Pace of Digital Transformation Automation, digitalisation, artificial intelligence (A...

CoVID19, Digital, ML
CoVID19, Digital, ML

CoVid19 hit us and has now created the “new Normal” in terms WFH, Video conferences, bal...

Do we really need CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs?
Do we really need CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs?

Why CMOs and CTOs are all you need to succeed in today's world This is my first article in a se...

Cinématographe by the Lumière Brothers & History of AI
Cinématographe by the Lumière Brothers & History of AI

The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, French inventors and the pioneer manufacturers...

Avenues To Expedite The Incorporation Of 5G Into Industry
Avenues To Expedite The Incorporation Of 5G Into Industry

5G has been launched in Asia Pacific. South Korea, China, the Philippines and other countries have b...

4G/5G Fixed Wireless Access: A Critical Revenue Growth Engine 
4G/5G Fixed Wireless Access: A Critical Revenue Growth Engine 

In studying key success factors of solutions, it can almost always be shown that the underlying conc...

Big Data Machine Learning IoT and PI
Big Data Machine Learning IoT and PI

In the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), an enormous amount of sensing devices collect and genera...

Learning from #COVID19…Would remote working be the new normal?
Learning from #COVID19…Would remote working be the new normal?

Musings of a Technology Evangelist In the past few months, we have all learnt many new terms&hellip...

Principles of Sustainable Cybersecurity
Principles of Sustainable Cybersecurity

In past few years the annual rate of cybersecurity breaches has almost been doubled, and as a result...

Data Governance a key element for Digital Transformation
Data Governance a key element for Digital Transformation

For the last few years, corporate environment, used to speak and hear lots of financial/management t...

Stay Connected With Us