Set to be much faster than previous generation networks, 5G technology also promises low latency and greater capacity – features that offer tantalising possibilities and benefits for businesses of all sizes
With the roll out of fifth-generation broadband networks, or 5G, Hong Kong is being tipped by its government to be one of the world’s earliest adopters of the next generation technology.
As the prerequisite technology that underpins Industry 4.0, where everything is connected, processed and digitised, the impact of 5G across Hong Kong’s various business sectors has the potential to be huge. Richard Sheffield, Morgan McKinley’s Greater China managing director, believes the technology is set to transform and advance many existing industries, as well as to create new ones.
“We are talking faster speeds, with some estimates that 5G is 100 times faster than 4G,” he says. In simple terms, this equates to being able to download a full HD movie in less than 10 seconds on a 5G network, compared to about 10 minutes on the current 4G network.
Sheffield believes that from a Hong Kong business perspective, 5G will not only be instrumental for many industry sectors, including finance, technology, entertainment, transportation, retail, and education and healthcare sectors, it will also help SMEs to increase efficiency, production, and innovative breakthroughs.
“5G will allow small businesses to compete more effectively both locally and on a global scale,” he says, adding the increase of raising the potential to launch new products and services and move into new markets as an example.
Sheffield highlights how augmented and virtual reality applications could become game-changers across the retail, property, entertainment and tourism sectors. “Customers will be able to visualise products or a service in a local environment at superfast speeds, simply by pointing their phones at an item,” he explains.
Getting ready for 5G
Francis Fong, honorary president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, points out that while SMEs may not necessarily be beneficiaries in the first wave of 5G technology implementation, business owners should still plan ahead. “SMEs need to understand what 5G involves and be on the lookout for ways that 5G technologies can benefit their businesses,” he says.
Consequently, any new IT project or business development should ensure systems are forwardcompatible and can transition to 5G as it becomes available. “The transition from 4G to 5G won’t happen overnight, but it’s coming,” says Fong. Once the 5G infrastructure is up and running, SMEs will be able to benefit from the IoT services and smart city features provided by mobile operators and other system integrators. “5G is the backbone of smart city development, but it also takes more than a 5G network to develop a smart city.”
To realise the commercial potential that 5G-driven, smart city technologies offer, it requires access to a wide range of open data, such as the type of data provided by the government and public utility services. “At the moment, the amount and availability of open data is not readily available in Hong Kong,” notes Fong, who is optimistic the situation will improve. “4G is rapidly coming to the point where there is a lot of traffi c congestion. Therefore, 5G provides the obvious solution to meet demand and to advance emerging opportunities.”