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Date [ 2017-05-20, 04:52 ]

The domestic telecommunications technology is set to evolve into a whole new level after Celcom Axiata Bhd and Ericsson conducted the country's first 5G trial on May 19.

Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Jailani Johari said the 5G technology was crucial - from empowering the local industry across telecommunication, finance and industrial sectors; to government and private sectors - thus becoming the key to achieving the target to become a developed nation by 2020.

"With the recent launch of the premier digital hub of the world's first Digital Free Trade Zone and Kuala Lumpur Internet City, Malaysia envisions to be the epicentre of South-East Asia's Internet economy.

"This will drive Malaysia to become one of the world's largest purpose-built digital hub for technology giants and leading startups from around the globe.

"This is where 5G comes in and plays a key role in ensuring not only efficiency, but also to open a window of opportunity for digital players.

"Ultimately, 5G will be a solid foundation in creating a strong ecosystem to enable innovation," he said in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Earlier, Celcom chief executive officer Michael Kuehner said Celcom was always committed to developing and continuing the evolution of its network with the latest technologies and to bring the best digital experience to Malaysians.

Meanwhile, Todd Ashton, the president of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka, also described the collaboration with Celcom as a further demonstration of Ericsson's support for Malaysia on its journey towards 5G, following on the success of the Innovation Centre for 5G set up last year with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Speaking at a press conference later, Kuehner said a lot more trials need to be conducted, from the aspect of technicalities, as well as, the ongoing discussion with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission on the regulatory aspect.

The full roll-out of the network to consumers in Malaysia was expected between 2020 and 2025, while global consumers could experience it as early as February 2018 during the Olympic Winter Games in South Korea and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

4G LTE is nearly at the end of its cyclical lifespan, and that usually heralds the arrival of a successor of the current wireless standard. As expected, the new wireless standard is none other than the new 5G standard, which is inherently far better and more efficient than the current 4G LTE wireless standard.

While 4G LTE still straddles with speeds within realm of Megabits per second, Celcom and Ericsson ensured us that their prototype 5G units were nestled within the 28GHz bandwidth range, and was able to achieve network speeds of up to 18.2 Gbps (approx. 2.2GB/s) and latency as low as 5ms. Thanks to its fast transfer speeds and low latency, the new wireless standard is able to open up brand new facets and applications.

One demonstration showed just how efficient 5G could be if it were used with cloud robotics applications. In the demo, the presenter was able to control and calibrate a robotic arm via the use of a cloud-based control center on his computer, and because of the low latency of 5G, lag between the presenter’s actions and the robots was practically diminished, allowing for a more seamless movement of the arm.

Another more practical application of 5G in the consumer spectrum is the ability to seamlessly stream video content at resolution of 4K or higher. Yes, streaming 4K videos is not an issue at this point in time, but as time goes by, innovation and technology will most certainly allow us to stream video at resolutions of 5K or even 8K, and for that, you’re going to need a wireless standard that is far more efficient than 4G LTE.

Now, while such speeds would undoubtedly be godsent to many consumers yearning for speeds greater than what 4G LTE is capable of offering us, we are obligated to tell you that 5G is not yet readily available in Malaysia, hence the field-testing of the new wireless standard.

5G is nothing new, as talks of the new wireless standard has been around since last year. Some of you may not remember, but Qualcomm had announced its X50 modem during its Qualcomm 4/5G summit in Hong Kong last year. The modem was designed to theoretically handle speeds of up to 5Gbps, and was built to ride the same 28GHz bandwidth spectrum as Celcom and Ericsson’s field testing devices are currently doing now.

As it stands, Malaysia still does not have the infrastructure to support 5G, but representatives from both Celcom and Ericsson have said that they are waiting for an industry standardization to happen globally first, and according to them, that may happen sooner than expected during the 2018 Winter Olympics that will be taking place in Seoul, South Korea, next year.

The full roll-out of the network to consumers in Malaysia was expected between 2020 and 2025.
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