Accelerating industries, economies . . .
Southeast Asian countries are scrambling to launch fifth-generation (5G) networks starting from 2020 as a means of accelerating the digitization of their economies and adopting ‘Industry 4.0.’ 5G technology is the next generation of mobile connectivity providing much faster transmission speeds and significantly reducing latency. Telkomsel and XL Axiata, Indonesia’s two largest mobile operators, have partnered with Nokia, Ericsson, and Huawei to upgrade core networks for 5G and to develop cutting-edge products, including holographic phone calling and cloud-based gaming. Similarly, Malaysia’s major telecommunications company, Maxis, has signed a formal agreement with Huawei as a hardware supplier for its 5G network roll-out.
An uneven field . . .
Although most Southeast Asian countries are determined to lead in the 5G scramble by developing national plans for their 5G network rollouts, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam are expected to lag behind Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. A recent report projects that Singapore, with its advanced digital infrastructure, will lead the race with the highest 5G penetration rate of close to 60% by 2025. The penetration rate in Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, is expected to be limited because consumers and enterprises are unwilling to pay a premium for 5G services, while mobile operators are focused on recouping their investments in existing 4G networks.
A race to watch . . .
While Nokia, Ericson, and Huawei are all competing for dominance in the Southeast Asia 5G roll-out, Vietnam plans for its national Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group to develop its 5G network without dependence on international partners. Southeast Asia will be a region to watch as the balance unfolds between telecom giants and national/regional ASEAN plans for digitizing national economies and developing collaborative regional platforms that depend on 5G, like the innovative ASEAN Smart Cities Network.
- Nikkei Asian Review: Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines named as likely 5G laggards
- The New York Times: Malaysia’s Maxis partners Huawei for 5G rollout next year
- The ASEAN Post: Can 5G really transform businesses?