The Covid-19 pandemic has put pressure on companies to remain proactive and resilient in anticipation of future industries and jobs that revolve around fifth-generation (5G) cellular technology, an executive at consultancy PwC has said.
The technology has become an enabler of how companies think about the future of their products and how to deal with customers, Mohammed Kande, vice chairman and global advisory leader at PwC told the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Dubai.
This would entail new roles and verticals, which companies will have fill to bridge gaps in operations, he said.
“What is interesting and intriguing is what new companies are going to be created in the future because of 5G, those that do not exist today, and what is the next innovation of jobs to be created. It is just the beginning, and this would create much more value in much more companies,” Mr Kande said.
The pandemic has hastened the digital transformation of the private sector globally. However, there have been misconceptions, with 5G perceived as only capable of supporting faster communications and data downloads.
Several cases surrounding its use have proved its viability in several sectors over the past few years, most notably in transport, health care, education, energy, mission-critical communications, smart cities and even climate change applications.
In 2020, mobile technology and services generated $4.4 trillion of economic value, equal to 5.1 per cent of global gross domestic product, the GSM Association said in its Mobile Economy 2021 report. That figure is expected grow by $480 billion to about $5tn by 2025.
In manufacturing, mobile 5G technology can lead to higher flexibility, lower costs and shorter lead times for factory floor production reconfiguration, according to Swedish network gear maker Ericsson.
The technology has the ability to revolutionise how products are manufactured and, in conjunction with the Internet of Things, can connect every part of the manufacturing process within and outside the factory, leading to improved customer experience and increased productivity.
The Progressive Policy Institute projects that 5G will create 309,000 new jobs in the next 15 years.
“We have seen that smartly connected industries can both advance companies and spearhead their competitiveness but, more importantly, spearhead entire industries,” Asa Tamsons, senior vice president and head of business area technology at Ericsson, said at GMIS.
“In the context of climate change, we need it to reduce emissions, too.”
With the uptake of 5G, both businesses and policymakers are prioritising the need to identify international co-operation opportunities and inclusivity to sustain economic growth, especially in the era of climate action.
“Regulators can play a big role by rolling out 5G as fast as possible. The magic word is collaboration – between the government, regulators, telecoms operators, the mobile industry, vendors and use-case entities that will use it,” said Tariq Al Awadhi, executive director of the spectrum affairs department at the UAE's Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority.
Ms Tamsons said Ericsson expects 60 per cent of the world to be covered by 5G, but this will not happen by itself.
By 2025, 5G will account for more than a fifth of total mobile connections, with more than two in five people around the world living within reach of a 5G network, the GSMA report said.
It also expects the total number of mobile internet subscribers to hit 5 billion – 60 per cent of the global population – by the same year.
However, the pace of 5G adoption, is slow: only 26 per cent of consumers own 5G-enabled smartphones, a recent survey by market research company YouGov found. About 52 per cent do not have one while 18 per cent are unsure if their smartphone is 5G-enabled, YouGov said in the report.
“Technology itself will not solve it. There is a need for collaboration from discussions; learn from it and scale it from there,” she said.