Asia has emerged as a global frontrunner in the race to fully utilize the revolutionary power of 5G technology, with industry leaders pushing the boundaries of innovation and connectivity. The arrival of 5G holds the potential to transform various sectors, from the medical field to the manufacturing sector, launching a new era of unprecedented speed, dependability and connectedness.
The more developed economies in the region, such as South Korea, Australia, and China, have been leading the transformation, influenced by the introduction of 5G technology. After South Korea's successful deployment of a statewide 5G network in April 2019, other countries including Australia, the Philippines, China and New Zealand quickly followed suit. South Korea set the pace for the industry. According to the projections made by GSMA Intelligence, a second wave of 5G rollouts in countries such as Indonesia, India and Malaysia will allow the Asia Pacific to dominate the 5G industry worldwide by 2025.
A recently published study by Research and Markets, titled ‘5G Growth Opportunities in Southeast Asian Countries’, presents a promising scenario in the region’s digital future. The ASEAN region is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in 5G revenue of 35.3%, increasing from USD 1.64 billion in 2022 to an astonishing USD 7.43 billion in 2027. This relentless spread of 5G connection will be the primary driver of this massive shift, and it will emerge as the cornerstone during this transformation.
Success of 5G in Asia Pacific
An essential element in the success of 5G deployment in the region is the allocation of spectrum resources. The process of allocating spectrum for 5G applications has moved quickly throughout the Asia Pacific’s regulatory bodies. When coverage and capacity need to be balanced, the mid-band spectrum, and particularly the C-band, has proven to be the optimal choice. Nevertheless, several markets put stringent restrictions and milestones on operators. One such market is South Korea, which has stringent conditions for the retention of spectrum licenses.
According to Ookla, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur are the cities that perform the best in terms of 5G, enjoying outstanding median download speeds. Additionally, Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai demonstrate outstanding speeds, highlighting the potential for quick development of 5G in the region. Despite being one of the last entrants to 5G, India is home to some of the most promising internet speeds in the world.
Meanwhile, China has emerged as a formidable competitor in the race to dominate the 5G environment because of its enormous consumer base and relentless efforts to achieve technological advancement. Companies all throughout the world, including Huawei, ZTE and China Mobile, have been instrumental in the formation of the narrative surrounding 5G. In particular, Huawei has been at the forefront of the development of 5G infrastructure, serving as a provider of equipment to telcos all over the world. Chinese enterprises have continued to push the boundaries of technology and have made important contributions to the standardization as well as the commercialization of 5G.
When it comes to taking the lead in 5G technology, Japan is taking a holistic approach that spans beyond major telcos. The rollout of 5G is being led by NTT docomo, SoftBank and KDDI Corporation, but Japan's competitive advantage lies in the partnership between the country's telcos, device manufacturers and vertical industries. This partnership has resulted in the development of new use cases, such as the application of 5G-powered robotics in the manufacturing and healthcare industries. Japan has established itself as a leader not only in the development of network infrastructure but also in the promotion of a flourishing ecosystem for 5G technology, as a result of its dedication to the creation of a comprehensive 5G environment.
Additionally, despite its size, Singapore has continuously shown a forward-thinking commitment to the adoption of new technologies. The country has made significant investments in 5G infrastructure with its vision and goal actualization of becoming a smart nation. The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of the city-state of Singapore has been actively cooperating with industry participants in order to establish an environment that is favorable for the development of 5G. Singtel and StarHub are among the primary companies pushing Singapore's 5G agenda. Their goals not only include placing Singapore as testing ground for novel 5G applications but also achieving statewide coverage with 5G networks.
Asia demonstrates the revolutionary potential of strategic planning, collaboration and innovation during the 5G revolution. The future of the digital landscape will be significantly influenced by the decisions made today. It is not enough to only embrace 5G, it must be pushed into a new era of digital excellence by masterfully conducting a symphony of innovation, strategic alliances and visionary leadership.