Could Covid-19 be the catalyst for 5G boom?

There has been a lot of talk around 5G in Africa and despite some providers actively offering it, the overall rollout has been slow. This maybe changing though and this is according to Rami Osman (Director for Corporate Sales and Marketing, MediaTek Middle East and Africa) who says that the main catalyst for this is the Covid-19 pandemic which could speed up the rollout of 5G networks and services to, in turn, support the continent’s transition towards a digital economy. Should it be a reality then this will help to unlock significant growth opportunities across the continent.

Osman continues to state that the 5G network technology standard has the potential to create new revenue streams for network operators, drive digital inclusion and improve the end-user experience across video streaming, large file downloads, online gaming and Fourth Industrial Revolution applications. 

According to GSMA, Sub-Saharan Africa – a region with a population of 1.1 billion – is expected to achieve 30 million mobile 5G connections by 2025, according to the GSMA. 5G technology will account for around half of mobile connections in regions such as China and North America in the same timeframe. However, the pandemic creates impetus to accelerate 5G rollouts and adoption worldwide – Kenya recently became the second African country after South Africa to introduce 5G networks.  

“5G has a valuable role to play in providing high-speed broadband connectivity to households and businesses that are poorly served by fixed-line infrastructure. Dramatically speeding up fast and reliable Internet service deployments is essential in the pandemic and post-pandemic landscape, with the global digital economy booming and more economic, educational and public service activities moving online,” adds Osman.

Osman notes that the 5G boom has already started in many parts of the world, with IDC predicting that 5G shipments will account for more than 40% of global smartphone shipments this year, growing to 69% in 2025. 5G growth is a factor in pushing worldwide smartphone shipments to a forecasted 5.5% growth rate this year, says IDC.  

He adds that semiconductor companies such as MediaTek have focused heavily on creating cost-effective 5G modem data cards and 5G-ready smartphone chipsets to clear the way for global adoption of 5G services. MediaTek’s portfolio not only includes solutions that make 5G handsets accessible and affordable to the mass market, but also solutions for PCs, the intelligent home and various other Internet of Things applications.

“MediaTek is working closely with its customers, networks and technology suppliers to accelerate the rollout of 5G and power devices across mobile, home and auto,” says Osman. “5G is poised to further transform the way we connect, compute and communicate. MediaTek is rolling out its advanced 5G technology across the PC, mobile, home, auto and IoT segments to make super-fast connectivity accessible to everyone.”