5G technology is deservedly touted as the greatest-yet leap forward in mobile telecommunications technology, opening a wide new horizon of benefits to the world.
But, says Scott Munro, managing director of leading Australian telecommunications infrastructure deployment company CPS Global, successfully making that leap into this life-changing electronic future presents huge challenges. Most are far from fully appreciated in Australian engineering, management, resources and political circles, both nationally and at grass roots levels.
“The main problem will be the volume of infrastructure that will be needed for 5G,” says Munro. “That, and the size of the workforce needed to design and build it.
“The expected use of 5G for, say, autonomous cars or mobile artificial intelligence, will require very low latency that will require an exponential increase in the number of base stations deployed.
“Just getting enough sites accepted by landowners, the public and state and municipal governments will take expertise, time and major effort. We are an end-to-end service provider in that field with many years’ experience across Australia and internationally, so we understand the complexity of these problems and how to solve them and we know they are going to be huge.”
Bringing in 5G is a nation-building process of enormous scale, he adds. “The co-operation of all levels of government will be needed. Along with that is the huge challenge faced by the carriers who now face dropping revenues but at the same time are required to spend more billions of dollars to bring in the new technology when capital is not so readily available as it was.”
In the early days of mobile, the carriers built infrastructure and the users came, though big revenue streams did not begin to flow back to the telcos until the iPhone and its mobile apps opened the floodgates of mass use of data. “Now, the industry faces a new demand for more capital expenditure when it is still difficult to predict what the take-up will be and what the drivers of it – the killer apps – will be.”
Munro says it will be interesting to see what the industry and the public create and identify as the ultimate drivers of 5G. They haven’t been invented yet, but killer apps will come and an enormous amount of infrastructure will be built to populate the horizons of 5G, he says. “Beyond doubt, speed of data and volume of data are going to be the drivers.”