Expert cautions against hurried 5G roll-out

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad launches 5G tests at Putrajaya in April. (Bernama pic)

MANCHESTER: As Malaysia prepares for the nationwide roll-out of fifth generation network (5G) project demonstrations next month, an expert has cautioned that it should take its time and learn from the mistakes of others.

GSM Association (GSMA) director-general Mats Granryd said it is not necessary for Malaysia to be the first in Asia to implement 5G.

“Maybe, Malaysia can be No. 2 or 3 as it gives more room to learn from others’ mistakes,” he told Bernama here.

However, Granryd said Malaysia should not take a wait-and-see approach either because the adoption process could stretch for years.

GSMA is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide.

Recently, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak said 5G demonstration projects will be conducted at 32 sites across six states – Kedah, Perak, Penang, Selangor, Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur.

Granryd said 5G technology would provide firm support for daily activities, allow smooth business transactions and be more economical, as maintenance for 3G technology would be expensive over time with the rapid advancement in global technology.

“3G maintenance is more expensive than 5G because it is an old technology. The higher the G, the more efficient it becomes due to more built-in intelligent solutions.

“Eventually, vendors would stop manufacturing 3G and possibly 2G technology products, so from that perspective, it will be more complicated to do maintenance for the network,” he said.

From the global perspective, he said that operators are slowly phasing out 2G and some of their 3G network infrastructure to keep up with technological advancements.

“5G networks can more easily understand the type of data being requested and are able to switch into lower power mode when not in use, and to switch to a higher power mode for things like high-definition video streaming,” he said.

Asked about Malaysia’s readiness in terms of infrastructure and demand for 5G, Granryd said 3G and 4G infrastructure and network must be maintained before deploying 5G as it is not a standalone technology.

“You must possess a 4G network before being able to deploy 5G. Hence, building up the 4G network is as important as 5G,” he said, suggesting that Malaysia should concurrently deploy interesting 4G applications for the benefit of consumers, industry and the society.

Eight companies have committed to an initial investment of RM116 million for 5G demonstration projects until March next year.