How 5G Will Transform the Economy

How 5G Will Transform the Economy

Asia-Pacific will lead the 5G revolution, enabling Industry 4.0 and contributing $450 billion to the Indian economy – predicts GSMA

The 5G era is underway. As a foundation technology for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 5G promises to transform everything; helping realize the potential of remote healthcare, smart factories, autonomous vehicles, smart farming, remote education, digital twins, augmented/virtual reality, immersive sports transmission, smart cities, unlocking huge economic value. An IHS Markit study estimates that $13.2 trillion in global economic value will be made possible by 2035, generating 22.3 million jobs in the 5G global value chain alone. According to the Association (GSMA), Asia-Pacific will lead the 5G revolution with 1.8 billion people subscribing to mobile services by 2025, representing 62% of the region’s population. India will account for more than half of new subscribers. The GSMA, by the way, is an organisation that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide – with over 750 mobile operators as full members and another 400 companies as associate members.

5G on a roll – Asia-Pacific to lead at $110bn

5G is already on a blitzkrieg across the world. GSMA has identified 450 announced 5G phones, up from 351 in Jan 2021. There are at least 608 commercially available 5G devices, up more than 66% in six months. By mid-August 2021, 461 operators in 137 countries/territories were investing in 5G, including trials, acquisition of licenses, planning, network deployment and launches.

In 2020, mobile technologies and services generated over $750 billion of economic value added (5.1% of GDP) in Asia Pacific. This figure will grow by $110 billion by 2025 to $860 billion, as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services. 5G is expected to benefit all economic sectors of the region’s economy during this period, as governments and enterprises adopt new digital solutions in line with Industry 4.0 objectives.

According to GSMA Intelligence, operators globally had 234 million 5G connections by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, 135 operators had commercially launched 5G networks in 52 markets worldwide by the end of 2020. And that is just the start. It is well understood that the 5G technologies being rolled out today are just the first step in a new evolutionary path towards the headline capabilities of 10-Gbps data speeds, 1-millisecond latencies, and massive connectivity.

5G unlocks the India potential

5G technology has the potential for ushering a major societal transformation in India by enabling a rapid expansion of the role of information technology across manufacturing, educational, healthcare, agricultural, financial, and social sectors. GSMA Intelligence forecasts 5G connections in India to reach 6% of total population by 2025 (72 million) and 93% by 2040. Over the period 2023–2040, GSMA has forecast that 5G technologies will make an overall contribution of approximately $450 billion to the Indian economy (0.6% of GDP by 2040).

The manufacturing sector is set to benefit the most from 5G applications (accounting for 20% of the total benefit), followed by retail (12%) and ICT (11%). 5G will deliver $150 billion in additional GDP for India. The manufacturing sector will see the greatest impact, accounting for about a fifth. The healthcare sector will also benefit greatly from mmWave-enabled 5G, with an impact of approximately $4 billion. These two verticals are explored in our case studies.

India is a price-sensitive market, and the long-term sustainability of India’s mobile industry is under threat. 5G presents an opportunity to propel the country to the next generation of digital connectivity and generate new revenue streams. Policymakers can make the most of this by providing timely access to the right amount and type of affordable spectrum, under the right conditions.

Not just another ‘G’ – 5G is a revolution

5G is not an evolution in telecom technology, but a revolution. While most of us think in terms of it being another G delivering higher speed reaching almost zero latency; it is something beyond just speed. People want more data. They want super-fast video streaming, low latency gaming and new virtual reality services. Enterprises, meanwhile, are impatient to explore the potential of data-hungry use cases such as connected car and telemedicine. They also want to dive deeper into machine learning and create networks that comprise millions of smart connected sensors – aka the industrial Internet of Things. Thankfully all of this is possible in the coming era of 5G connectivity.

5G is built on a new kind of software-defined network. Because of this, 5G connectivity can deliver not incremental but exponential improvements in speed, capacity and (device) longevity. It delivers:

  • Up 10 gigabits per second – upto 100x faster than 4G
  • One millisecond latency
  • Up to 100x number of connected devices per unit area (compared with 4G LTE). That’s 1million devices per square kilometre.
  • 100% coverage
  • Low power consumption – allowing connected objects with up to 10-year battery life to operate for months without the need for human assistance.

5G use cases – Limited by imagination

5G will offer hundreds of use cases for both consumers and businesses limited only by your imagination. For consumers it ranges from enhanced video (4K, 8K and formats like 360-degree video); live sports streaming; music and gaming (mobile and cloud); AR/VR;consumer IoT services; in-car entertainment and connectivity, and digital advertising. With commercial consumer-based 5G networks already live around the globe, the next wave of 5G expansion will allow businesses of all types to reap the benefits of enhanced mobility, flexibility, reliability, and security. For telecom service providers 5G creates unique opportunities to deliver new value. Service providers could take different roles across different ecosystems, ranging from connectivity provisioning to B2B service delivery and end-user application creation. Across all roles, there is substantial potential to pursue, and service providers are expected to play an instrumental role in industry digitalization.

Digitally transforming sports and media

5G plays a crucial role in transforming the fan experience delivered by the sports and media industries. 5G promises to take fans closer to the action and give them an opportunity to view a game from the athlete’s point of view besides others. This would also bring viewers closer to other fans and their experiences. Fan-generated content is one of the five fastest-growing content forms for sports.SK Telecom introduced South Korea to a new era, the age of Hyper Innovation, with the commercial launch of their 5G network. With 5G downlink speeds that are 10 times faster than 4G, and that exceed 1 Gbit/s in stationary mode and 500 Mbit/s in mobile mode, SK Telecom has positioned 5G as a premium service as they take their customer experience to the next level. In addition to ultra-high speeds, 5G delivers rich content in diverse areas spanning gaming, ultra-high-definition (UHD) video, and AR & VR based applications. Today, South Korea is the world’s largest 5G market with more than 3 million subscribers.

Creating the factory of the future

Ericsson and Audi have been collaborating to expand the horizons of tomorrow’s factories with 5G technologies. Freeing automated machines from wires significantly increases the flexibility, mobility, and efficiency of a production line, as robot cells using a wired network connection are restricted in terms of where they can be placed on the factory floor. With 5G URLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication), these machines require only a power connection, usually available anywhere in a factory, meaning the production setup can easily be changed and units moved around on a day-to-day basis to maximize efficiency. Collaborations like this are essential for developing the factory of the future. By partnering with manufacturers like Audi, Ericsson can develop technologies like 5G URLLC based on and optimized for real-world requirements to shape the future of their industry.

Real-time healthcare

Using connected healthcare technologies, it is possible for doctors to help more patients, with more targeted care, and more timely interventions. As video consultations, hospital robotics, and smart wearables become increasingly popular, 5G will be vital. High-definition video streams between connected ambulances and the hospital will help paramedics to treat patients in transit, and hospitals to prepare for their arrival. High-definition video can also be used for telemedicine, enabling communications between patients (especially in care homes) and doctors. Smart wearables and sensors embedded in replacement joints enable more complete and more timely communications with doctors. Robotics and automation in hospital campuses, enabled by private 5G networks, can be used to deliver prescriptions and guide patients.

Private 5G networks

Analyst firm IDC expects the deployments of private 5G networks to scale in a meaningful fashion in 2021. Private 5G networks will be appealing for several reasons. First, they can accelerate the time to market for 5G use cases by providing earlier, bespoke access to 5G networks designed and installed with the unique physical and performance requirements of the customer’s location.

Second, mobile operators are keen to start showing meaningful returns on the massive capex investment over the past few years required to stand up their 5G networks, and private 5G networks are an avenue to accelerate that timeline — and achieve marketable headlines to boot.

Organizations don’t have to wait for the economics of their geography to drive a mobile operator to build out public mmWave 5G infrastructure. Nor do they have to worry about how their existing facility design intersects with mmWave physics for signal coverage. The private 5G network deployment can be designed specifically for coverage of the corporate campus or manufacturing facility.

Facilitate app development

The next chapter of 5G’s success story rests heavily in software and app development that can utilize 5G’s performance assets and differentiate it from the status quo. Mobile operators, cloud providers, and other 5G ecosystem participants should establish platforms to expedite app development for 5G. The complexity of 5G requires developers to have access to the full suite of 5G’s performance and network attributes in order to optimize the software’s use of 5G.

A number of cloud providers are positioning their edge solutions not only as tools for mobile operators to deploy 5G’s latency benefits but also as innovation platforms that allow developers access to the edge and 5G features for use case creation. In addition, expanded access to mobile operators’ 5G labs and innovation hubs will ensure that developers are creating functional use cases from the same deck of cards, ensuring that software will perform consistently and reliably as these 5G apps scale and permeate consumers’ smartphones and businesses’ operations.

Future of 5G – Terrestrial & satellite communications

What is perhaps not fully understood is that 5G evolution will not be limited to terrestrial networks. The rise of 5G will be accompanied by the rise of non-terrestrial networks (NTNs), which include high-altitude platforms (HAPs) such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. These NTNs will be integrated with terrestrial networks to create a hybrid terrestrial/ non-terrestrial 5G mobile infrastructure serving consumers and enterprises. Mobile Network Operators are now investing in NTNs.  They are teaming up with satellite operators to address difficult-to-serve markets without having to deploy traditional ground-based radio equipment.

For both HAPs and LEO systems, the key ingredient to the hybrid terrestrial/NTN architecture is the development of advanced 4G and 5G antenna systems that have pushed the area of beamforming and phased arrays significantly forward. A commercial 4G or 5G antenna today features 64 antenna elements. However, new antenna technology has been developed that can transmit hundreds of beams simultaneously that can be narrowed so finely and accurately that it’s the equivalent of one user having their own personal cell site. Today advanced antenna technologies make it possible to turn a UAV or a LEO satellite into a 5G base station or backhaul provider that can be integrated into terrestrial 5G networks. This is why LEOs and HAPs will both have their place in the future 5G ecosystem, determined by the economics and the expectations of the users and the service to be provided.

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