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Australia, Singapore say hello to 5G

Singtel and its Australian subsidiary Optus have made one of the first 5G video calls in the Asia-Pacific region

A 5G video call was made between Australia and Singapore last week, kicking off the early adoption phase of the next-generation mobile technology in the Asia-Pacific region.

Made with early 5G devices from Chinese handset maker Oppo on the Ericsson-built 5G networks of Singtel and Optus, the call also demonstrated the use of augmented reality (AR), making it possible for engineers from the two telcos to use on-screen annotations to exchange views on their 5G sites.

As a key 5G application, AR opens up new possibilities for enterprises, ranging from mobile collaboration between experts in different locations, on-the-job training to remote assistance. Examples of consumer use cases will include immersive gaming, virtual tactile shopping and holographic calls.

“Once again, Optus has proven our 5G agility, working collaboratively with our colleagues in Singapore to successfully land a ground-breaking 5G inter-country AR video call,” said Optus CEO Allen Lew.

“Just last month we achieved another first, with the launch of our plans for our 5G home broadband product for Australian consumers. Today’s announcement is another step in our commitment to lead 5G delivery in Australia,” he added.

Martin Wiktorin, Ericsson’s country head of Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, noted that 5G video calls and AR in a multi-party environment will transform the mobile broadband experience.

“With the establishment of 5G connectivity on smartphones soon becoming a reality, consumers and enterprises will be able to unleash the full potential of 5G by integrating this new technology into their daily lives and operations.”

In Singapore, Singtel and Ericsson are working together to develop a 5G ecosystem, including the launch of the 5G Centre of Excellence programme in October 2017, the first data call over a 3GPP-compliant 5G network in one-north in November 2018, as well as the recent opening of the first live 5G facility in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic.

In Australia, Optus and Ericsson are partnering to build 50 new network sites and conduct critical inter-operability device testing. This will allow Optus to deliver a compatible 5G home broadband product to customers.

APAC presents a unique setting for 5G – a populous region with fast-growing, increasingly digital economies that have a desire for speed and connectivity. According to Frost & Sullivan, there will be 280 million 5G subscriptions in APAC by 2022, with 5G service revenues reaching $4.5bn.

Countries such as China, South Korea and Japan are expected to be the forerunners in rolling out 5G. But successful 5G implementation across the region is still an open question, particularly in developing countries where demand for 5G services is likely to be muted.

“Though it is possible for developing nations to jump to 5G, a key question to consider is the need for 5G within and beyond government-driven initiatives,” said Quah Mei Lee, industry principal for ICT practice at Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific. “Cost remains a limiting factor and mobile operators are assessing the capabilities of 4G before deciding to invest in 5G to supplement it.”

Read more about 5G in APAC

  • Adoption of 5G across the Asia-Pacific region will be led by China, South Korea and Japan, but telcos will need to find the right pricing strategy to compete with IoT connectivity upstarts.
  • Malaysia has become the latest country to look into the security concerns surrounding Huawei, which has been accused by mostly western powers of conducting corporate espionage and potentially installing backdoors for the Chinese government.
  • Nokia and Intel are among others that have been working with telcos across the Asia-Pacific region to test 5G technologies and applications.
  • Australia is widely seen as a test bed for 5G services with the country’s dense cities and wide open spaces. 

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