Powering the post-COVID recovery with 5G opportunities


Stuart Corner
Contributor

It is near universally accepted wisdom that there are two sides to every crisis. Each brings with it challenges and danger, and each also creates opportunity. For the past 18 months the world has been experiencing a crisis unprecedented in living memory: a global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The pandemic greatly accelerated digital transformation efforts, with some organisations implementing plans that had been scheduled for months or years in a matter of weeks. These were the organisations that seized the opportunity created by the crisis.

Others were less prepared, and had a challenging transformation thrust upon them. Verizon Business Group regional vice-president for the Asia Pacific Rob Le Busque, says the company has dealt with both.

Advanced manufacturing and the 5G opportunity

“There were organisations that had planned for digital transformation, had a blueprint and a roadmap and thought about how to gain greater control, about what agility really looks like and how to scale up and down,” he said.

“And then there were organisations that had not planned, were caught short and remained very much in response mode. They had to build capability and make decisions rapidly for business continuity, without a future state in mind.”

On a national scale Mr Le Busque believes Australia has been rather slow to seize the opportunities for innovation created by the pandemic but thinks that is about to change.

“When it comes to technology, the last 18 months have been a dress rehearsal for the next decade. We’re optimistic that we’ll see a real shift to the innovation agenda with technology as a change agent for societal and economic leaders.”

Verizon sees 5G being one of the most significant technologies driving innovation, says Mr Le Busque, and precipitating a shake-up in organisational approaches to IT.

“5G will be a lightning rod to focus on and help drive new ways of strategic thinking and planning for the technology executive,” he said. “5G will generate an explosion of new types of applications, particularly when we pair 5G network topology with mobile edge compute capability.

“This will create a significant pivot point for all elements of an organisation to focus on and understand the implications of a new service, application or architecture – on its cybersecurity posture, its data management and its data security.”

Great future for private 5G

One aspect of 5G that has to date gained little momentum in Australia but for which Mr Le Busque sees great potential is private 5G. This is where an organisation acquires rights to 5G spectrum within the bounds of its own facility and installs technology to provide a complete 5G network independent of any public 5G network.

“There is an opportunity for this technology to transform and uplift Australia’s position in the advanced manufacturing sector, which focuses strongly on high technology and efficiency. We’re planning for, and we see a future where private 5G becomes part of a network fabric for organisations in Australia,” he said.

One of the first private 5G networks in Australia will be created with funding under the government’s $20m 5G Innovation Initiative: in an underground mine to test 5G as a viable underground broadband wireless technology.

However, Mr Le Busque says private 5G networks are gaining momentum around the region.

“Singapore has started to roll out some significant private 5G projects, and there are good examples of private 5G networks being used across a variety of different industry sectors. South Korea and Japan are well advanced,” he said.

“The Asia Pacific region, overall, has been on the front foot when it comes to mobile technology.

“We’re seeing uptake in the sport and entertainment sector in the US, and across campus environments – whether that be a shipping yard or a large logistics facility – where there are a lot of connected people and connected things moving around.”

The great advantage of a private 5G network, Mr Le Busque says, is the degree of control it gives the organisation operating it.

“The organisation has the ability to prioritise traffic and connectivity, and to scale up the number of connected devices feeding into its private 5G network.

“And if it implements mobile edge compute capability, it can reduce latency significantly – which opens up a whole new world of opportunity around automation, ultra-high bandwidth and data transfers.

“Private 5G represents a significant step shift in capability and delivery for business, that if harnessed correctly will be key to Australia’s economic recovery.”

This story was produced as part of Verizon Business Group’s Platinum sponsorship of the InnovationAus 2021 Awards for Excellence.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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