The use of digital as a work and lifestyle enabler is becoming more and more inevitable as time moves by. Our homes, relations, communication, and offices have moved online to a point where it is now becoming acknowledged that being online is a human right. And yet, billions of people are not able to access digital services and they are missing out on a lot. The online economy is huge for example, and those who are excluded are unable to take advantage of opportunities that lie therein. This way they’re denied an opportunity to make a living and also to contribute to the country GDP.
In an earlier article, we talked about the efforts that can be made to get more people digitally enabled. Like players getting rid of the notion that they are a luxury item and therefore stop or go easy on taxing them as so. Narrowing the digital divide and empowering more of the world’s people with online connectivity is key to overcoming poverty and attaining a sustainable future.
In yet another article, we looked at how 4G connectivity which has been with us for quite some time now is empowering communities and how it is the foundation to bigger developments as the world moves towards 5G. 4G is holding forte pretty effectively in terms of digital communication and therefore, there is need for constant expansion of the same. The LTE groundwork that has been laid is a very good asset and stepping stone into 5G. Financially, a strong LTE network will cut down on the costs required to switch to 5G.
According to the latest GSMA report, around 80% of the world’s population now has mobile coverage and of these, more than 50% of connections are already on 4G which already have the capabilities to guarantee an optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and cloud gaming.
The above mentioned GSMA report also predicts that as much as Africa has a mobile broadband penetration rate of just 23%, it will be the fastest-growing global region. Industry leaders believe that in the medium term, 4G will be the layer of choice for global mobile communications, while 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.
Onto 5G, the latest report from GSA shows that by the end of May 2020, 386 operators globally had announced they were investing in 5G. Among these, 81 operators in 42 countries/territories launched 5G commercial services. This includes MTN which recently launched its superfast 5G next-generation mobile network across South Africa’s major cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth. With 5G, we’re looking at enhanced mobile broadband, enabling of mission critical communications and massive Internet of Things (IoT) communications between equipment.
Keeping all the above in mind, it makes sense for national networks to invest in 4G to secure future growth opportunities, while already supporting leading-edge 5G capabilities.
“All investment in expanding 4G and organising site assets will reduce the amount of money needed to switch on 5G in the near future. Every rand spent on 4G is thus a rand invested in 5G.” Mohamed Madkour – VP of global wireless networks marketing and solutions at Huawei.