Houlin Zhao

Emma Okonji

The Secretary‐General, International Telecoms Union (ITU), Houlin Zhao, has stressed the importance of the fifth generation technology (5G) in transforming the lives of people in the digital era.

Zhao who spoke at a recent technology gathering in Switzerland, said: “5G, ,IMT-2020′ technology is coming fast, and it will have great power to transform our lives for the better, through better health care, smarter cities, efficient university systems and enhanced manufacturing sector. They are all being made possible as the Internet of Things era gathers pace with an array of innovative solutions that are powering our modern economy.”

He however said none of these things could reach their full potential without 5G networks. According to him, smart 5G systems will soon be essential to meet the data intensive demands of billions of people who are using ever-growing amounts of video daily. 5G will bring much faster data speeds, reliable connectivity and low latency to international mobile telecommunications (IMT).

He advised governments of various countries and the global communications ecosystem, to invest in 5G technology and ensure that devices are fully connected and sending vast amounts of data via ultra- fast broadband.

“There is a great opportunity in these early stages of 5G development, when compared with past experiences in building 3G and 4G/LTE systems,” Zhao said, adding that ITU would adopt the globally harmonised spectrum and standards that would facilitate the development and implementation of 5G.

Describing 5G as the backbone of tomorrow’s digital economy, Zhao said  the technology represents spectrum extension; millemetre waves; cell densi cation; increased spectrum efficiency; advanced antennas; 3D beam-forming techniques; new electronic components; backhaul optimisation; D2D, among others. He explained that the 5G technology is a combination of 4G, 3G, Wi-Fi, and new radio access to create an integrated and dynamic radio access network; connectivity management mechanisms, which comes with ultra-low latency; decoupling functional architecture from the underlying physical infrastructure; network intelligence closer to users; mobile edge computing, among other benefits.

He said 5G would boost transport data freely, and create opportunities for new collaborations and applications, as well as the delivery of true Internet of Things (IoTs) experience, connecting everything in homes, offices, public spots, as well as roads, including advanced data products and transport data sharing.