At the beginning of 2020, a BusinessTech article declared that 2020 would be the year of 5G. According to the Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and chief operating officer at Lenovo, who was quoted in the article, the reason everyone is so excited about the 5G rollout is because it is the key to unlocking the development of more advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and edge computing, among others.
“5G has the potential to disrupt entire industries and to start new ones. Its low latency is optimal for IoT, as it will enable real-time communication between connected machines and devices, and it is more suited for driverless vehicles, drones, tele-medicine, and anything AI-related,” said Lanci.
This was before the world was faced with a global pandemic. Now, industry experts are suggesting that 5G rollout could take a short-term hit given the worldwide economic downturn. As the world grapples with the impact of COVID-19, tech giants like Samsung, Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia are reporting that 5G rollouts, and further investments in 5G, are slowing.
While actions taken by governments to slow down the spread are making service delivery and supply harder, according to Ericsson’s CEO, Börje Ekholm, some countries are pushing to accelerate investment in 5G and 4G in response to the pandemic.
With work-from-home orders in place across the globe, distance learning in full swing and streaming services booming as people search for ways to entertain themselves at home, reliable and high-speed connectivity is essential.
“COVID-19 has mobilised the telecom industry to focus on bolstering broadband infrastructure capacity and availability to support consumer, work-from-home, government/public safety and enterprise demand,” a 451 Research report explains. “One of the positive outcomes of COVID-19 could be stronger demand for 5G as a replacement for legacy broadband infrastructure. 5G performance is also getting a chance to shine as a result of COVID-19, especially in areas like telehealth, where the long-term impact is expected to be high.”
According to Mark Lowenstein, MD of Mobile Ecosystem, there will be a negative impact on 5G in the short term, but the longer term is looking even more favourable. “Two wildcards are: not knowing how long the economic shutdown will last or how deep the recession will be; and how much the global supply chain will be disrupted.”
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