How 5G promises to transform business

Saturday, July 4th, 2020 17:35 |
5G-Network. Photo/Courtesy

By Apollo Abraham

Advances in technology are fast transforming the way businesses operate, forcing them to think beyond the usual business models to make money.

And experts say businesses that fail to adapt are going find to themselves left behind while savvy ones who learn to keep up will reap the rewards.

They point, especially, at 5G, the fifth generation of mobile networks that promises to change the landscape of what’s possible for modern businesses.

Huawei recently held its 5G+, Better World Summit, where various operators and industry partners shared their experiences of how 5G applications can drive significant business and industry efficiency.

“5G development has entered a new phase,” said Huawei Carrier CMO Bob Cai.

With over 80 5G networks commercially available worldwide, he added, determining how to leverage 5G to create more value is currently a topic of great interest within the industry.

“Currently, 5G for business is still more of a branding concept, and more solid work needs to be done.

To build a positive business cycle, work should be done in four aspects: Technology, ecosystem, standards, and business model.”

Future business

Dimitris Mavrakis, research director of ABI research, highlighted that new ‘G’ technologies have historically offered major benefits to consumers. 5G, however, is likely to be most beneficial to the commercial sector.

By 2030, Mavrakis predicted that 5G’s impact on the global gross domestic product GDP will be over $7.5 trillion (Sh798.8 trillion) – compared to the $5.1 trillion (Sh543 trillion) 4G contributed in 2019.

“We expect that 5G will transform businesses in the same way 4G transformed consumers,” said Mavrakis.

However, he cautioned that it could take several years for the manufacturing world to adopt the technology.

Mavrakis also implored governments to provide opportunities for 5G to flourish within their countries, and highlighted ways that this is already being done, such as in the provisioning of free 5G spectrum and the reduction in taxation of carriers.

Several Huawei partners also highlighted the different industries that are already getting great benefits out of 5G.

1. Ports of trade

Xu Mengqiang, General Manager of China Mobile Ningbo, highlighted that several 5G implementations have resulted in substantial benefits to a Ningbo port.

These include 5G-powered self-driving container trucks, remote-controlled cranes, and backhaul HD video streaming - which shows key cranes in real-time.

The Ningbo port envisions that efficiency will be increased by over 260 per cent while labour turnover will significantly reduce as a result of better and safer remote working environments using new 5G-powered technologies.

2. Agriculture

Dr Thomas Anken, the head of the Digital Production Federal Department of Economic Affairs Education and Research in Switzerland, highlighted that 5G is enabling a variety of smart farming methods that have a significant impact on the yields of farms in the country.

Examples include:

·       Multispectral imaging of wheat fields by drones resulting in a 10 per cent decrease in fertiliser usage.

·       Tractors with an automated hoe that recognises plants and eliminates the weeds around them.

·       The swift delivery of important intelligence to the cloud which ensures that automated robots receive data to update their machine learning capabilities, while farmers also receive insights into how they can optimise their processes.

3. Smart factories

Guo Lihong, Deputy Director of the Engineering Equipment Department of Hunan Valin Xiangtan Iron and Steel, explained that 5G is expected to increase the factory’s efficiency by 30 per cent while reducing costs by the same margin.

5G is used with remote-controlled cranes and slag-adding arms to streamline the factory’s processes, and these cranes have improved production efficiency by 33 per cent.

The ability for production line surveyors to watch real-time production through HD video has also optimised these workers’ jobs.

In total, the factory plans to build 100 5G macro sites as well as three management centres to continue to reap the benefits of 5G.

4. Hospitals

Hospitals have implemented a variety of impressive 5G-powered functionalities to improve their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was particularly important to minimise human-to-human contact, and allow doctors to support patients remotely, or while standing safely behind a screen.

Features that were available to these hospitals included:

·   Remote surgery guidance.

· Self-driving vehicles to deliver equipment and sanitize facilities

·  Robots through which doctors can talk to patients.

· Systems in ambulances which support first response teams – in an ambulance moving at 80km/h, backhaul speed is 50MB/s.

5. Tourism

5G- enabled Smart Tourism will generate benefits across the whole economy value chain.

During the current pandemic 5G enables higher-quality broadcasting of tourism and wildlife attractions as well as in Virtual Reality to help with marketing and attracting tourists in the future.

For tourists who come to Kenya, 5G will let customers use Augmented Reality on their phones or special wearable devices to experience tourist sites differently.

Just imagine overlaying images and seeing and hearing what Lamu Old Town and Port, or Fort Jesus used to look and sound like hundreds of years ago, or seeing some of the items in the National Museum in their original environment, or passing an item in a museum and immediately being able to see on your phone videos explaining it, or even helping you see inside it.

Such experiences can not only enhance the visitor’s experience, but also generate additional revenue for the industry, and extend tourists’ stays.

Finally, hotels and tourist attractions can also use 5G to very quickly set-up wi-fi in hotels and wi-fi hotspots at tourist attractions which is a must nowadays.

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