While Asia looks forward to emerging from COVID-19, manufacturing has quickly rebounded, leading to a range of new and innovative products. These include solutions that incorporate 5G technology, where China is arguably leading the way with adoption of this new communications technology. It is creating future investment opportunities and standards set to influence the development of 5G on a global scale.
According to Global Data, APAC will be the leading region in terms of 5G adoption with 1.14 billion subscribers, accounting for 65% of global subscriptions by 2024. Of these, Chinese 5G mobile phone connections will near 500 million in 2021, accounting for 87% of global users.
On the consumer side, as the region emerges from COVID-19, the expectation is for even more people to travel than before. They’ll be looking for ways to utilize enhanced roaming features to remain connected with the same at-home experience they are accustomed to.
5G’s low latency, high reliability and greater data throughput will boost demand and create new opportunities in a wide range of sectors. These apply to both human subscribers and connected ‘things’.
An army of roaming travellers
Prior to the pandemic, China was the world’s largest source market of outbound tourists, reaching almost 155 million, who travelled to almost every corner of the world. South Korea and Japan also ranked highly.
As regional travel resumes, so will mobile roaming, including 5G. To support this, operators must ready their businesses for the anticipated upsurge in demand. Once a user has experienced ultrafast line-speeds and instantaneous access to apps and content, they will expect the same quality of service, wherever they are. Whether pottering about the garden at home, or exploring the hutongs of Beijing, or nightlife of Tokyo, they’ll expect operators to deliver faster than 4G.
Asia’s manufacturing sector is moving quickly to embrace Industry 4.0 technologies, encompassing intelligent manufacturing, network-based collaboration and personalized customization.
In late January, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) unveiled its new Industry 4.0 action plan for the three years to the end of 2023. This incorporated the construction of 30 5G factories, plus a big data centre for the industrial internet of things (IoT), and three to five industrial internet platforms with international influence.
China expects rapid growth of its industrial internet. Nationally, almost all cities have full 5G coverage, supporting around 200 million 5G connections and around 1,100 industrial IoT projects. Additionally, the country will deploy 600,000 new 5G base stations in 2021, with a keen eye on its application in immersive gaming, life services, healthcare, and housekeeping.
This investment in 5G connectivity will significantly contribute to the growth of IoT, supporting a wide range of applications requiring consistent, reliable, and secure managed connectivity in sectors such as logistics, automotive, manufacturing, public safety, security and healthcare.
BICS unveiled its borderless 5G capabilities, at MWC Shanghai earlier this year. The SIM for Things solution supports global, seamless cross-border connectivity for any IoT use case. Whether high speed and low latency is required, or low power technologies, BICS offers the widest international coverage with a single SIM supporting 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, LTE-M or NB-IoT. Such flexibility is ideally suited to the region’s many manufacturers, whether they are looking to incorporate a 5G capability into a range of consumer and business connected devices, or for refrigerators that alert a user when food has expired, autonomous lawn mowers or an asset being tracked throughout the supply chain. Remote surgery, reduced inspection bottlenecks in factories, connected robotics – the potential is endless with all panel of mobile network technologies now available for IoT.
As this potential is realized, and enterprise and consumer expectations rise with it, operators and the manufacturing industry alike need to ready themselves. Simple, reliable, borderless connectivity will be crucial in meeting the demands of the world’s fastest-evolving market.