Chinese smartphone manufacturers are eager to launch 5G-enabled smartphones in Pakistan following successful 5G tests conducted in Islamabad in August 2019. As of now, Realme and Oppo Mobile have expressed their intention to set up local assembly lines for their products with the aim to provide top-notch technology at affordable prices.
The enormous void with regard to internet technology and online services has always existed in Pakistan. The pandemic has greatly highlighted the need to fill this gap, and now Chinese competitors are trying to capitalise on it. But one highly doubts that the introduction of 5G smartphones in local markets will have any sort of significant impact. Yes, the world has now become virtual, and yes, countries are now shifting to online means, but Pakistan is still lightyears behind — this is our reality. We lack the infrastructure that will help impact such technology to the masses, since most rural and far-flung areas are devoid of proper phone signals. Only a small percentage of tech enthusiasts truly care about 5G services. We must realise that we can look towards the future only if our foundational structures are strong. Otherwise, lack of access and inequality will significantly hamper human-centric progress. There is still a long way to go and Pakistan still has time to develop and enhance its technological infrastructure at the grassroots level. The point of introducing 5G should be so that it serves the masses. If implemented correctly, the use of 5G will encourage e-commerce growth, strengthen our online community and empower local businesses to shift online.
Introducing cheap 5G smartphones is an important step but the prerequisites must also be met. This is the perfect time for the government to invest in the technological infrastructure so that we can make the most of 5G technology in the future. Officials and data service providers need to work together and map out where cellphone towers and signal boosters need to be installed. Otherwise, 5G will remain a marketing strategy for the purpose of selling a product.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2021.
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