How 5G Will Impact Digital Transformation, Convergence

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Emma Okonji

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts have tipped 5G as the next technology that would drive digital transformation and convergence, especially in developing countries.

Drawing from the just concluded 5G World 2018 conference in London, where the impact of 5G on global digital transformation was discussed, the President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola advised the Nigerian government and the private sector to invest in 5G technology to fast-track development in digital transformation and convergence. According to him, emerging technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) among others, had closed the gap between Information Technology (IT), broadcast and telecommunication, thereby promoting convergence of ICT through digital transformation.

He commended the private sector operators in Nigeria for their investment in emerging technology solutions that will support ICT convergence and digital transformation.

5G is expected to lead to changes in the way that networks are built and monetised, with the possibility that there will be a longer time before the introduction of the next generation, industry executives at the just concluded 5G World 2018 conference noted.
Commenting on the initiative, the General Manager of Telco NFV at VMware, Shekar Ayyar, said: “5G is the catalyst for lots of points of convergence.”

According to him, “We see convergence in wireless and wireline, we see convergence in IT and the network edge, core and potentially radio as well. We also see convergence in cloud. What we find interesting about 5G is it is going to be the point in time where at least some subset of operators will become first-class citizens in the cloud economy.
“Different service providers might attach themselves to different parts of this. Some might go all the way up to offering new services to compete with an over-the-top (OTT) technology, others might offer their network as a service, and yet others might offer really just basic connectivity.”

Also, the CEO of Affirmed Networks, Hassan Ahmed, noted that while there are differences in strategies, “the underlying thread that binds all these users or operators together is this desire to transform”.

“The two things that we think underline a big chunk of transformation in general are two very simple facts: networks have to be able to scale very quickly and economically, so we have to change that, and operators need to be able to innovate at a much quicker pace. Those two drivers are changing the way people not only build their networks, but how they manage them and monetise them,” Ahmed said.
Similarly, the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Telia Sweden, Mats Lundback said, “The tricky thing for us as an operator is that in the country we have more or less all companies and all individuals as potential customers. So it’s about picking who to work with.”
According to him, “3G was five or six years too early, because of the lack of iPhones, basically, and apps. 4G was, from our perspective, was two years too late. But with 5G, the growth is in this industrial development, enterprise processes, and public safety.”

The Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO) of British Telecoms, Howard Watson, described 5G as an important factor in its fixed mobile convergence efforts and revealed an ambition to switch off its 3G network in 2022.