Mobile operators to soak up benefit from 5G trends

November 06, 2021 | 08:00
Vietnam has long stated its plan to provide 5G coverage nationwide by 2030, and the ability to offer all citizens high-speed internet connection at a low cost is a priority of national significance.
Philip Ziter - Senior associate Russin & Vecchi Ho Chi Minh City
Philip Ziter - Senior associate, Russin & Vecchi, Ho Chi Minh City

A nationwide roll-out of 5G coverage will, of course, require a step-by-step approach. Major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang have been prioritised to deploy 5G due to their higher need for high-speed services and denser populations. Industrial areas which attract foreign investment, are also prioritised to facilitate the development of smart factories.

Viettel, MobiFone, and VNPT have been trialling 5G services with their users since November 2020. A recent test, jointly conducted by Viettel, Ericsson, and Qualcomm at the Viettel Innovation Lab, has successfully established 5G data transmission speeds of more than 4.7 gigabits per second, 40 times faster than 4G, and more than twice as fast as the existing 5G network. Viettel’s test confirms the incredible capacity of the 5G ultra-short wave technology the operator is deploying in Vietnam.

The Ministry of Information and Communications has been tasked with the initiative of commercialising 5G in Vietnam. By all accounts, mobile operators will price 5G services at rates equivalent to existing 4G services, and users would not be required to change their SIM cards. Vietnam’s digital economy totalled $14 billion in 2020, and the deployment of 5G is expected to boost this figure significantly. Indeed, the contribution of 5G to GDP is forecast to reach 7.34 per cent by 2025. While perhaps ambitious in terms of the timeline, Vietnam has high hopes for 5G on its medium-term horizon.

With a view to accelerating digital transformation, the government has initiated various programmes to boost tourism management and promotions, infrastructure investment, digitalisation of the postal sector, digitalisation of the logistics sector, and e-commerce, among others.

Telecommunication infrastructure, including mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure, is defined as one pillar of the digital economy. The development of broadband infrastructure enables the development of all economic sectors. 5G promises to deliver broadband-level speed, wirelessly, to millions of users where they access it most – their phones.

Interest has been noted in the application of 5G technology to agriculture and high-tech industry, including smart factories and smart cities. The Vietnam Telecommunications Authority plans to deploy 5G, with priority going to industrial parks and high-tech parks, as well as high-density urban centres and central business districts of major cities.

As Vietnam, along with the rest of the world, transitions toward an increasingly digital economy, data and one’s ability to make use of it, progressively becomes more crucial.

Improvements to Vietnam’s mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure will continue to contribute to the country’s development. Telecoms infrastructure is key for the development of the digital economy. Bleeding edge technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, big data, network security, digital identity, digital government, and electronic payment platforms all rely on widespread, fast, and affordable connectivity.

According to statistics from the Telecommunications Department, in 2021 the number of fixed broadband subscribers exceeded 17 million, while the number of mobile broadband subscribers exceeded 69 million. Mobile operators stand to benefit from a new revenue stream that can be marketed to the vast number of mobile broadband subscribers.

Commenting on the development of Vietnam’s telecom market, chairman Tran Duc Lai of the Radio and Electronics Association of Vietnam said that this year, local telecom network operators have deployed 5G and achieved “very positive results.” Vietnam will continue to test 5G services on a broadening scale.

With high capacity and ultra-low latency, 5G will enable meaningful use of AI-enabled technologies and IoT applications across a range of use cases and sectors. As enterprises employ 5G as a means to process and analyse more data, revenues and valuations are expected to increase, as businesses become better equipped to monetise huge amounts of data.

Developments in technology powered by 5G will expand the mobile ecosystem to new industries. The global digital economy is projected to reach a value of $13.1 trillion by 2035 and much of its growth will be fueled by 5G connectivity. Precision agriculture, construction and mining, digitalised education, connected healthcare, smart manufacturing, intelligent retail, and connected smart cities are areas where development will be catalysed and enabled by 5G coverage.

Private 5G networks will revolutionise container ports, warehousing and logistics, airports, hospitals, hospitality, manufacturing, farming, and more.

In a healthcare context, doctors and patients will be more connected than ever. Wearable devices will alert providers when a patient is experiencing symptoms. For example, an internal defibrillator could automatically alert emergency room cardiologists of a patient experiencing symptoms, allowing physicians to prepare for the incoming patient, complete with a full record of data collected by the device in real-time.

Data has been likened to the oil of the future. Data will fuel the growth of most sectors, and agriculture is no exception. Farms will increasingly consume more data while relying on fewer chemicals. Sensors installed directly in fields, allow farmers to identify, with incredible precision, which areas require additional water, pest management, or show signs of invasive disease.

As economies of scale and manufacturing efficiencies make wearable technology more affordable, 5G enables networks with large numbers of IoT devices. For example, farmers can use health monitoring devices for livestock, gaining much more accurate and timely health data. This allows for significant reductions in the use of antibiotics, without risking the safety of food supply chains.

The convergence of AI and IoT, powered by 5G, will result in major transformations to factory floors. Predictive maintenance will help minimise downtime and reduce costs. Factories will also utilise 5G to analyse and control industrial processes with an exceptional degree of precision, not possible prior to 5G. Traditional quality control processes will be streamlined via sensor technology and AI, all made possible thanks to vast improvements in connectivity offered by 5G.

And in logistics and shipping, 5G allows greater communication between vehicles of a fleet. Vehicles can also communicate with infrastructure along the route. Navigation and monitoring of vehicles will improve with 5G, resulting in better route planning, shorter delivery times, and lower instances of driver error and accidents. Augmented reality systems used to identify potential hazards, without diverting a driver’s attention away from the road, could be employed and powered by 5G.

By Philip Ziter

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