KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysians should understand that the transition to a fifth generation (5G) network from the current fourth generation (4G) of broadband cellular network technology is more than just a technological change, it is a policy decision that will influence how quickly the country catches up in the race to become a developed high-income nation.
Remember that Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea are known as the “Four Asian Dragons,“ and their economic success has served as a model for many developing countries, particularly Malaysia.
One thing these countries have in common is that all four already have live 5G networks and users, The Edge said in its report.
South Korea reached the lower-middle-income threshold in 1969 (the same year as Malaysia), advanced to upper-middle-income status in 1988, and advanced to high-income status in 1995, and will undoubtedly continue to rise and remain an indispensable part of the global value chain.
Any country that wants to remain globally competitive and move up the value chain must have reliable high-speed broadband connectivity.
To put it into perspective, the adoption of higher and greater technology like 5G can be compared to the construction of the North-South Expressway in the late 1980s, which transformed the country’s road transport connectivity when it opened in September 1994, nationwide availability of 5G is expected to be a critical differentiator in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
As for South Korea, the country with a fandom culture was able to beat the rest of the world in launching the first 5G network on April 3, 2019, because it had spent decades laying a strong foundation in multiple areas, from fibre connectivity to the ability to manufacture network equipment, liquid crystal display panels, batteries, and desirable 5G foldable phones.
“As for Singapore, we all know that our neighbour Singapore has a strong economy, and is a country that will not invest in anything that does not generate returns for the city state or its people,” it said.
Singapore rolled out in May a so-called 5G standalone network which, as the name suggests, can transmit data independently on a 5G network without partially relying on 4G infrastructure, as with the case of a 5G non-standalone network.
While Singapore’s minister for trade and industry said in August that 5G would cover half of the city state by end-2022 and the entire island by end-2025, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd’s website shows that its 5G network already covers more than two-thirds of the island republic.
What has 5G done for South Korea, and what does it have for Malaysia?
South Korea had launched 5G services for enterprise use as early as December 2018, setting the stage to build and test autonomous ships, and not just land vehicles, among other things powered by Internet of Things (IoT) platforms as well as multi-access edge and cloud computing.
Subscription-based smart factory services such as product defect detection is already a possibility alongside 5G-powered solutions like autonomous drones for real-time logistics, aerial, water, pesticide spray, and other types of surveillance.
South Korea’s government had recognised 5G alongside artiﬁcial intelligence (AI) and data as key enablers of the 4IR as early as 2017 when introducing policies such as i-Korea 4.0 and 5G+ strategy as well as setting up a presidential committee to oversee the expansion of its capabilities in data, hyper-connected network and AI to better lives using technology.
“The adoption of 5G could mean quicker Internet connection speeds, larger bandwidth capacity and lower latency or delays in transmitting information, which might be simple and basic, however these three could really remove hurdles for many emerging and developing technologies such as IoT, autonomous driving and delivery, augmented reality, and virtual reality,“ the publication said.
The low latency in 5G could push IoT to new heights as it will allow machines to sense and respond in near real time, while the stable and wide network coverage would augur well for companies looking to deploy autonomous drone delivery systems.
To sum up, the deployment of 5G is of national importance because Malaysia urgently needs to make that technological leap forward across all industries and if a bad call made today derails the 5G rollout, the country and its people will pay the price for decades to come.