The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted more than 20 million people across the globe, and this number continues to rise every day unabated. As people in different geographies are forced to stay home to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, communications networks have emerged as the de facto means to work from home, entertain, continue learning, and share information.
While a few service providers are temporarily forced to postpone their 5G rollout plans due to ongoing lockdowns, there is an awareness that 5G will enable the industry to meet several challenges, including the growing requirement for bandwidth, coverage, and speed. This is showing in the actions of leading communication service providers (CSPs). Telstra in Australia, for instance, recently announced the completion of a standalone 5G upgrade to its national network. Besides, the 5G plans of Verizon and AT&T continue to remain unaffected.
The Growing Relevance of 5G
There is a growing realization that 5G will be more relevant than ever in the post-COVID-19 world as remote working, telehealth, and remote education become the new normal. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the movement toward greater digitization of the enterprises. The 5G technology is ideally placed to ensure ubiquitous coverage, ultra-high-speed broadband with extremely low latency for the smooth and reliable functioning of the various business applications and collaboration tools. Further, 5G is a more spectral efficient technology, which ensures maximum utilization of the available resources. This enables CSPs to deal with the surge in demand for data consumption as working from home and remote learning becomes the norm.
Several CSPs world over have already announced their intent to bring forward their capital expenditure spend to upgrade and modernize their networks to deal with the surge in data demand. 5G deployment is gaining ground because of increased consumer demand for bandwidth as the video and data consumption continues to rise.
Today, the communications sector across geographies requires additional capacity, efficiency, and reliability. 5G technology can help in addressing these requirements. It is for this reason that the Chinese government has accelerated its 5G deployment plan. Similarly, Korean operators have enhanced their 5G CapEx with more focus on indoor coverage.
Further, 5G deployments will help in the faster adoption of IoT and applications such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and AI. The technology offers a unique combination of ultra-low latency of less than one millisecond and high-speed mobile broadband. This combination facilitates several path breaking and innovative use cases that hold particular relevance in the current pandemic-related situation. Several use cases, including smart city, Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), AR, and VR, are possible as a result of 5G. GSMA forecasts that there will be 1.8 billion 5G connections by 2025.
5G networks, backed by a robust wireline infrastructure, are more automated, programmable, and software-driven, allowing the service providers to quickly and easily scale operations if required. In the current scenario, enterprises, and consumers need reliable, dependable, and stable connectivity so that they can continue operations.
Essentially, this means that the geographies, such as Europe, who have had to postpone 5G deployment, will accelerate the rollout once the lockdown is over. Lockdown severely affected the supply chain and inventory, leading to the delay in 5G deployment even though Telecom services were categorized as “essential” in multiple regions. But, post-lockdown, the CSPs around the globe are likely to opt for tools that will help speed up the 5G rollout to meet the growing demands of both the enterprise and the retail customers.
At Cyient, we are specially equipped to work with the service providers at every stage of the 5G network deployment. Our LiDAR and drone-based mobile 3D survey capabilities enable accurate and precise identification of the sites to build a 5G network with limited time spent in the field. The captured images are used to create SAED designs and engineering packages for structured assessment, commissioning, and integration. This is further combined with intelligent GIS-based coverage analysis to provide more inputs for optimum site planning. This way, our tools ensure more efficient and smoother planning of the network even as service providers can ensure the protection of their workforce.
There is little doubt that 5G will play a crucial role in enabling positive outcomes from the ongoing COVID-19 disruption. CSPs who gain the first-mover advantage would be in a better position to meet the increased demand on their networks and the growing expectations of more reliable and improved network performance of their users.