THOUGHTS
09/10/2020 11:53 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.
By :
Dato’ Siva Shanmugam

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health emergency the world has faced in generations. The unprecedented magnitude of this crisis means everyone is making a concerted effort to improve safety while trying to keep social and economic activities running – from governments and businesses to communities and individuals.

In Malaysia, the crisis has been handled with relative efficiency and the country is now looking to jumpstart its economy during the current recovery period. The question we must then ask is how is Malaysia preparing post-COVID environment?

Ready for 5G

Talk of a ‘new normal’ is commonplace, but how exactly will Malaysia transition towards it, and how can it harness new technologies such as 5G to create a smarter and safer society? Malaysia remains ready for 5G in Malaysia; plans were in motion to begin commercialising 5G services in Q3.

However, these plans have been put on hold as the government is now focusing on broader coverage and connectivity, as part of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan. Nevertheless, the launch of 5G in Malaysia is inevitable. Malaysia is currently one of Southeast Asia’s most connected countries. Over 80 per cent of the country’s 32 million population are active Internet users, and over half of total Internet traffic comes through mobile phones.

Also, the government is now prioritising the wider digitalisation of the economy, building from initiatives such as the Multimedia Super Corridor, which helped Malaysia cultivate a robust ICT sector, which is now a key contributor to the national economy.

To move into the next industrial era, the country is focusing on holistically driving digital adoption between the wider Malaysian society – especially by improving connectivity in the country’s underdeveloped rural areas – and enterprises.

Pandemic accelerates digital adoption

The pandemic has accelerated Malaysia’s digital adoption. During the country’s lockdown period, many businesses needed to digitally adapt their operations. Whether they were large, publicly listed companies or small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many businesses took steps to upgrade their digital capacities, such as investing in remote working technology to ensure connectivity and business continuity. This shows that while Malaysia is still deliberating how and when it will inevitably launch 5G, the country already possesses an ecosystem that is digitally prepared to embrace a new era of connectivity.

How operations can be adapted for efficiency and flexibility going the radical route is often precipitated by critical periods. We have seen drastic changes by global enterprises to support relief efforts, such as scent manufacturers reworking operations to make sanitisers and luxury automakers retooling production lines to create respirators.

Malaysian companies are also playing their part domestically and internationally. These measures highlight the importance of manufacturing and supply chain actors to adapt their resources quickly to solve pressing societal problems.

CSPs must support such organisations’ ability to adapt and supply solutions to society more quickly. This can only be done via broader digitalisation, including enabling greater remote access, but doing so reliably to enable critical public services requires ultra-fast and low-latency connectivity.

Hence, CSPs, alongside the enterprises they work with, must harness the move to 5G. 5G can give connected enterprises the flexibility and adaptability that provides the gift of time – a valuable commodity under normal circumstances, but an extremely vital one now.

With 5G, the digitalisation of industries will reduce the time taken to design and build solutions, alongside helping organisations prepare technologically for disruptions. The importance of network slicing for 5G transformation ‘time to market’ is just as important as ‘time to manufacture’, and the key to 5G enabling rapid deployment of solutions is network slicing.

Network slicing

Slicing is not a new concept. Virtual network capabilities have been part of packet networking for decades. However, 5G deployments will extend this virtualisation to an end-to-end and top-to-bottom functional scope, and then embed slicing as a core function of the network.

Benefits include the ability to differentiate broad classes of services that require certain characteristics or resource parameters with performance characteristics that fit the needs of new segments – something that conventional one-size-fits-all networks cannot achieve. With network slicing, 5G can support diverse and extreme requirements for latency, throughput, capacity, and availability – enabling services that were impractical with previous wireless technologies.

5G will be transformative for the Malaysia’s varied economy. Agriculture can benefit from advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) for weather or crop monitoring, insect detection and soil analysis.

Manufacturers can leverage 5G-powered IoT sensors and data analytics to improve production whereas seaports can utilise 5G to enable faster machine-to-machine communications that can enhance container-terminal automation.

Moreover, healthcare can use 5G to enable real-time telemedicine and teleconsultation services.

Commercially, 5G can help CSPs better compete with broadband providers by offering homes and businesses low-latency, media-rich applications.

Malaysia 5.0

All of these can be made possible with 5G and network slicing support helps aggregate vast amounts of data from multiple, dispersed sources for better insight into operational status. This then allows for new levels of supply chain efficiency, visibility, and transparency.

Preparing for the dawn of Malaysia 5.0 while Malaysia is still recovering from the pandemic, the country has a bright future to look forward to. This is as Malaysia’s government, businesses and society understand the impact of broader digitalisation; it is only a matter of time before the nation fully reinvigorates its digital push.

CSPs in Malaysia therefore must stay agile in identifying how they can support their clients, especially with the imminent launch of 5G.

At Nokia, we are doing our part to help through our COVID-19 network traffic dashboard, which analyses global network traffic to help CSPs in the country anticipate capacity requirements and optimise resources.

For now, we must all remain steadfast in enduring COVID-19. We are certain to come out stronger and when we do, 5G is there to help us create a world that is smarter, safer, and prepared to not only weather critical periods, but prepare Malaysia’s economy for a more digitalised environment.

-- BERNAMA

Dato’ Siva Shanmugam is Head of Malaysia, Nokia.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)

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