As the Committee of Supply just debated the benefits and possibilities of 5G, underscoring the new wireless standard as a way to transform the way we connect, it’s clear Singapore is steadfast in its commitment to accelerate 5G’s adoption and commercialisation.
Singapore has made strategic investments in digitalisation such as its recent announcement of the new Emerging Technology Programme and Digital Leaders Programme, emphasising the need to commercialise innovations and adopt digital solutions.
These new programmes, coupled with the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) recent announcement of a S$30 million (US$22 million) fund to accelerate 5G’s adoption and commercialisation, offer a positive step towards business adoption and implementation of the new wireless standard.
However, based on a recent survey that Qualcomm conducted, many business leaders in Singapore must seek to better understand the benefits of 5G and how to maximise this new wireless standard across industries. Understanding the role of 5G is crucial as it has broad implications to how the technology is going to be adopted.
Understanding the knowledge gap
With the recent 5G development in Singapore, conversations around what the technology can offer are becoming more real. While there is still more that will need to be done for Singapore to fully reap the benefits of 5G, Qualcomm recently rolled out a survey to understand how 5G and its potential is perceived by business leaders. The study uncovered that business leaders in Singapore are not fully attuned to the potential of the industry’s new wireless standard.
When asked about how familiar they are with 5G, only 21 per cent said they are very familiar while 43 per cent said they are only somewhat familiar, revealing that overall levels of familiarity are only moderate. In fact, most business leaders identified faster mobile connectivity speeds as the key perceived benefit of 5G (86 per cent) compared to driving economic growth (43 per cent) or creating new jobs (34 per cent). This underscores the need to raise awareness on the broader implications of 5G that goes beyond just simply enabling faster speeds.
Perhaps the best way to think about the potential of 5G is from an economic growth perspective. In an independent study by IHS Markit (commissioned by Qualcomm), The 5G Economy, we examined the economic impact of 5G through three lenses: how the combination of investments in 5G infrastructure plus R&D will foster the emergence of a value chain that continually deepens the 5G technology base, the level of sales enabled by 5G and finally the macroeconomic impact of these investments on global GDP.
The study found that 5G deployments will have a positive impact on virtually every sector. Factoring the timing and adoption of new business models enabled by 5G, IHS Markit chose the longer time horizon of 2035 as the analysis year. The research firm estimated that 5G will benefit entire industries and economies, enabling up to US$3.8 trillion of gross output.
5G for Singapore as a smart nation
During this unprecedented time, one thing has become unequivocally clear – connectivity is essential to our daily lives. Just like how electricity and the invention of the automobile benefitted entire economies and societies, 5G will advance mobile from largely a set of technologies connecting people-to-people and people-to-information to a unified fabric connecting people to everything around them.
Our survey revealed that familiarity with 5G technology and its potential is still fairly moderate, given that so much of what we know about wireless connectivity today is predicated on our experience with mobile phones.
But to think of 5G as a mere speed increase from LTE is to not fully grasp the potential impact the new technology standard will have on the world. Unlike previous generations, 5G is truly fast cellular connectivity that has the potential to embolden and transform the innovation ecosystem in Singapore.
More than just a generational leap, 5G was designed to build a more resilient world. The technology offers the ability to scale intelligence and connect everything from machines, objects and devices. This on its own brings with it transformational value across Singapore’s socio-economic fabric, including urban living, transportation, health, and medical services, digital government services, strategic national projects, as well as the national economy.
There is no doubt that 5G represents a major milestone in connectivity. While Singapore has been deliberate in pacing out its 5G deployment, business leaders must use this time to understand the implications of 5G on the world around them. That foundational understanding is crucial as organisations today rely on IT collaborating closely with business leaders in their digital transformation efforts.
In order to fully reap the benefits of 5G, the broader implications of the technology must be understood, both in terms of the more seismic shifts it will bring around connectivity and to address any potential concerns.
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