The major technologies driving the 5G revolution in Vietnam and beyond

October 11, 2021 | 09:10
Vietnam is on its way to transform its digital landscape, by aiming to deploy 5G commercially as soon as possible. In addition, four associated technology shifts that work in tandem with 5G will likely co-create a strong market momentum.
Denis Brunetti - President of Ericsson in Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos
Denis Brunetti - President of Ericsson in Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos

The introduction of 4G relied on three related technology shifts – devices like smartphones and associated software, networks, and cloud-based data centres hosting applications.

These three technologies co-created the market momentum for 4G, where the widespread coverage and capacity was the foundation. Universal smartphone penetration has made it possible for a single type of device and two global operating systems – iOS and Android – to attract a broad portfolio of app developers. Centralised clouds host all applications by leveraging hyperscale economics. 4G is a fundamental enabler for the app economy and is evolving to support both fixed and mobile broadband, as well as cellular Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

The 4G ecosystem connects billions of smartphone users via hundreds of mobile networks to millions of apps. And when it comes to 5G, this landscape is more complex and multifaceted.

5G is unique in that it is the first cellular generation shaping consumer and business connectivity, starting as mobile and fixed wireless applications in both public and private network builds at the same time. Beyond a step change in capabilities, 5G can be deployed with two new business models: as a dedicated slice of a public network or as a private network.

This year represents the third in the deployment cycle. Tier 1 service providers have built networks in all spectra faster than any other previous technology. Today there are more than 900 5G devices announced in a vibrant device ecosystem, half of them smartphones.

One quarter of these devices targets the fixed broadband access market, an application supported in 90 per cent of the 5G networks launched up until mid-2021.

The market momentum for 5G is strong on its own merits, but the combined forces with edge computing, IoT, and AI make it all the more exciting. Each of these technologies and complement and strengthen the 5G experience, and cloud will give an edge when combined with business premises or in a network.

Edge computing

Edge computing and 5G complement each other for business-critical applications. 5G core capabilities and edge computing topology have strong interdependencies. It is not the only type of access one can consider for edge computing, but 5G and edge computing reinforce each other as they offer enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access coverage.

Internet of Things

The need for connectivity to a device is vital for IoT applications. Cellular connectivity supports two distinct market segments. Broadband IoT uses standard 4G with medium traffic patterns and lower revenues per device than smartphones while massive IoT uses 2G or 3G.

5G is a new connectivity option that opens up two new IoT segments. Critical IoT refers to performance applications characterised by high traffic volumes, low latency, high reliability and availability, and the flexibility provided by wireless connectivity.

Industry automation IoT has similar requirements but focuses on industrial applications in geographically limited areas. Powerful low latency connections enable the collection of larger data volumes in devices for processing at the edge. Powerful connections also allow for moving computing, memory, and battery capabilities from IoT devices to a nearby edge computing site. This shift enables lighter and cheaper devices with longer battery life.

AI and machine learning

AI and machine learning play a crucial role in making sense of already collected data, either processed locally in devices or remotely at the edge, with reliable and robust networks in between. The growing complexity in networks, more dynamic traffic patterns, and increasing cost pressures have paved the way for introducing AI and machine learning as essential network operations tools.

Today we can access VR applications through goggles wired to a powerful desktop computer, or by using our smartphones for AR applications. This movement started with entertainment applications for consumers and, more recently, by bridging into business applications to improve buying experiences and enable remote education and training.

Both AR and VR need high local rendering capabilities or network connectivity, allowing for the streaming of rendered videos remotely. The first approach limits the use of devices wired to a desktop PC nearby. The second approach requires a network with capacity and latency to support remote rendering at the edge.

The next big wave will focus on devices for mixed and augmented reality untethered from a desktop PC. The first AR will be integrated into smartphones and the second will be intended for flexible use without wires. In an AR-powered world, we can access specific knowledge in real-time when we need it. The augmentation of experiences is not limited to video and graphics; audio can also be of great value for consumer and business applications.

AR first appeared in 5G-powered smartphones. Innovations tied to dedicated untethered devices are an exciting innovation area that would not be possible without 5G networks and edge computing.

To fully leverage the capabilities of 5G, technology developers and service providers in Vietnam need to scale the new technologies across the market with speed and agility. To do so, the ecosystem needs to come together and find new ways to collaborate and co-create, so that Vietnam can drive its digital transformation and achieve its Industry 4.0 vision with 5G.

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