According to studies found in the 2019 GSMA Mobile Economy Report, the Asia Pacific region is set to become the world’s largest 5G region by 2025. The groundbreaking 5G markets which are set to take the lead within the region include Singapore, Australia, China, Japan and South Korea. 

China and South Korea have been the first to launch, launching earlier this year (2019) with the remaining countries following closely behind who are set to launch in early 2020. These launches will allow the APAC region to reach 675 million 5G connections by 2025 which is predicted to be more than half of the global 5G total expected connections by that given date. 

What will this mean for the APAC region?

In 2017, the APAC district contributed more than $1.5 trillion into the mobile industry. The economic contribution from the mobile industry saw a rise in the productivity level through the increased use of mobile services and technology. With these current 5G predictions, Asia’s gross domestic product is set to rise to $1.8 trillion by 2022. Not only is this beneficial for the mobile industry, but it also creates numerous employment opportunities. The APAC mobile ecosystem contributed to more than 17 million jobs in 2018 (both directly and indirectly) whilst also making a large contribution to the public sector funding (with over $170 billion raised through general taxation). 

The future of 5G 

The three main 5G attributes include: speed, latency, and density. With these improvements from 4G (which will shape the future of 5G), the rise of modern cities and telecom infrastructure will be groundbreaking. In fact, 5G’s next phase (3GPP Release 16) will lay the foundation to support a range of future 5G use cases and innovations, including massive connectivity and low-latency services such as Internet of Things (IoT), critical communication services (e.g. remote surgery, autonomous vehicles, smart grids) and virtual reality. Although the impact it will have on the APAC region is unknown, the digital economy will be driven by cross-cloud, inter-cloud and smart infrastructure, enabling businesses and consumers to receive high-density connectivity. 

Whilst the future looks promising, it can’t be denied that there are still a number of challenges which will need to be overcome. With issues regarding regulatory approvals and funding, the APAC region can’t celebrate just yet. One issue, in particular, is that 5G networks operate on millimetre waves which uses a high radio frequency to transmit large amounts of data in a short distance. As such, the governments are yet to approve large numbers of 5G small cells for operators to deploy. 

What will happen to 4G?

Whilst 5G looks exciting and equally promising, there are still a few hurdles to jump before consumers make the switch. One of the major setbacks contributing to consumer hesitancy is the expected price increase from 4G to 5G. According to a recent survey, 75% of Singaporeans say that they are not willing to pay a higher fee for the newly proposed 5G, thus sparking worry amongst industry players entering the market. Although consumers are excited by the possibilities that 5G can deliver, 4G is likely not going to go anywhere anytime soon. The switch over from 4G to 5G will most likely occur when consumers update their current mobile phone plan / services as typically consumers are used to paying a slightly higher fee for faster service or an increased amount of data. 

Whilst APAC is set to live up to the predictions of becoming the world’s largest 5G region by 2025, the region will most likely face the same challenges when it comes to the deployment of 5G as the rest of the world. As the leaders in 5G, VIAVI Lab to Field solution is the most comprehensive solution for NEMs and service providers to quickly perform a complete network verification in the lab for an expedited and smooth field deployment. 5G will soon become an enabler for new products and services to enter a plethora of industries that couldn’t before due to latency limitations. With the ability to test all key wireless, cellular, and IP technologies worldwide, VIAVI solutions ensure networks are robust enough to cope with the complexity and demands of devices and traffic at scale by validating the impact of real-life conditions across the entire network, testing subscribers’ quality of experience.

About The Author

Shirley Lim

Channel Marketing Manager - APAC

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