5G set to drive tomorrow’s mobile world


By Pana Janviroj

Industry must work with regulators to make the next generation wireless system a reality, mobile world congress participants told

Asia has taken the lead on the development of 5G, which will help smartphone users embrace the new tech era of artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), big data, the Internet of Things (IOT) and robotics.

In a keynote address at Mobile World Congress Shanghai organised by an association of 800 mobile operators around the world known as GSMA, its chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal called on the industry to work with regulators to make 5G – the 5th generation wireless system – a reality. The industry would need help from regulators on spectrum pricing, availability and taxes so that the full potential of 5G could be realised, said Mittal, who is also chairman of India’s mobile giant Bharti Enterprises.

Implementations of 5G, AI, VR, big data, IOT and robotics stood out among the exhibitions from the 600 companies participating in Mobile World Congress Shanghai. The four-day event attracted about 65,000 attendees.

The mobile industry expects 5G to deliver these new services as well as new business models. According to Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm, a technology company that pioneered the 3G and 4G, economic impacts of 5G could well reach 12 trillion US dollars (Bt407tn).

Mollenkopf predicted that China, Korea and Japan could expect to reap US$1.6 trillion from the 5G platform by 2035. Qualcomm was preparing for “massive IOT” with cars and household appliances leading the way, he said.

But all is not rosy. Mobile operators must prepare for falling consumer data prices to reach zero, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn warned during his address. “There is a real possibility the price for data to the customer will go to zero in the next five to 10 years,” he said, adding that operators must ensure that they offered wider, consumer-friendly services to continue to be relevant and avoid falling down the value chain.

He outlined the danger of spending too much time thinking about the range of “cool technology” being demonstrated at the show and not enough on how the innovations would be delivered for the good of customers.

Penn said new products should be designed to be intuitive and customer friendly – pointing to services from internet-based firms such as Netflix. These, he added, must also have transparent pricing structures to avoid bill shock.

GSMA Intelligence Asia Pacific data shows that revenue growth among mobile operators has continued to fall across the region. Total revenues grew by 3 per cent in 2016, down from 9 per cent in 2013. Key drivers include competition, regulations, IP messaging services and market saturation.


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