5G technology – a revolution in the offing

IT ministry should take steps for bringing 5G to Pakistan amid competition globally

Imran Batada November 18, 2019

KARACHI: It was late 2000s when 4G technology started to make its mark by speeding up mobile phone internet multiple times faster than 3G.

It enhanced the functionality of mobile devices through opening new possibilities of HD video calls, HD TV and fast mobile browsing. This was no less than a revolution for portable devices.

However, as nothing is permanent in this world, the new innovations started to call for faster technology, hence more updated technology is required. Specifically, requirements of Internet of Things (IoT), in this connection, cannot be met with 4G internet as the number of connected devices will exceed the limits set by 4G.

According to a rough estimate, by 2020, the number of connected devices will reach up to 2 billion.

Necessity is the mother of inventions. What differentiates humans from all other creatures is their tendency of coming up with creative solutions while facing a challenge.

Considering the limitations of currently available internet service, the world is driving with its full speed towards 5G technology. We evidenced some of the possibilities in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in terms of producing crystal-clear images of action, self-driving shuttle buses, virtual reality experiences for visitors, and last but not the least, the presence of robots for assisting and entertaining spectators and players.

Realising the emergence of this IT-driven shift at the global level, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority – back in 2018 – unveiled its plan of bringing 5G to the country. With the Chinese company carrying out a successful test, the launch of 5G technology seems to be a dream come true in the near future in Pakistan.

How will 5G different from 4G?

It is obvious as broad daylight that 5G will be considerably faster and efficient as compared to 4G. Speculations reveal that 5G will be 100 times faster than 4G with the speed of a couple of gigabytes per second.

5G technology will utilise much higher radio frequencies than 4G. This will allow it to support one million devices per square kilometre – a lot more than that of 4G which cannot go up to support more than 4,000 devices/km2.

Another striking key difference between 4G and 5G is the low latency. Latency, in its simplest form, can be defined as the time between sending and receiving information. 5G will be characterised by considerably reduced latency. This means information will reach the end-point faster. This will have a great impact as mobile devices will be used as a replacement for modem devices. The dimension of machine-to-machine communication will also experience a revolution due to the low latency.

Impact of 5G technology

5G technology will be characterised by increased bandwidth on the data. Network is down - we all hear this sentence every now and then from our internet service providers. However, with 5G internet, this will become a thing of the past.

Increased bandwidth will ensure the availability of high-speed internet, no matter how many devices are connected. With 5G internet, downloading complete movies will become a matter of a few seconds. The ultra-high speed offered by 5G will take the web-browsing experience to the next level.

However, the major revolution that the world will experience will be in terms of IoT – a mechanism in which artificial intelligence will play a significant role. The transfer of data will become possible without human interaction.

Smart home, though much talked about, is still a much-awaited dimension to which IoT is the key. The net of connectivity through 5G will ensure each and every device at your home is connected – be they electrical appliances such as fridge, microwave oven or security devices ie wireless security cameras and electronic locks. Now, just imagine the life where all these devices will be connected to your mobile phone and will be waiting for a touch on your smartphone’s screen.

5G will also drastically change fields of healthcare and education. Due to the lack of communication lag, doctors will be able to perform whole surgeries without being physically present there.

Furthermore, videoconferencing experience will become so real as it has been never before. Videoconferencing along with virtual reality supported by 5G technology will take educational experience to the next level, making it more exciting and engaging.

5G – a threat or an extension to human possibilities

Robotics will take another new turn with the advent of 5G technology. Until now, the major challenge in the field has been the time lag. 5G promises to offer minimum latency. This means human intelligence will be replaced with artificial intelligence.

This scares a lot of people that how relevant will the humans be when machines or devices will replace them. However, the answer lies in upgrading the skills. Technology is all about easing the burden of work so as to allow you to focus on other areas. That time is not far away when the decision-making process will be conducted by human beings while the rest of the labour will be done by machines.

In fact, 5G will prove to be a catalyst which will connect humans and machines in order to produce highest level of productivity.

A report produced by HIS Economics & IHS Technology states that by 2035 5G will be enabling $12.3 trillion of global economic output. This will open a plethora of employment opportunities for those who will be ready to embrace change.

The study conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that 5G technology will be supporting millions of jobs by 2035.

Where is currently 5G internet available

Currently, 5G has not been fully launched in any country. A handful of locations in the United States have 5G services. Japan has also been involved in carrying out experiments with 5G for controlling humanoid robot.

Heo Won-seok, Policy Director of ICT and Broadcasting Technology at the Ministry of Science and ICT of South Korea, stated that 5% of the country’s mobile users would be on a 5G network by 2020, while 90% by 2026.

China has been undertaking pilot projects of 5G test in several cities. Due to the impact of 5G internet, the competition is cut-throat at the global stage. Therefore, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication should take all the necessary steps to pave the way for bringing 5G to Pakistan.

The writer is Director ICT & Founding Director of Centre for Information and Communication Technology at IBA


Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2019.

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