5G Outlook Series: The Impact Of Mobile Technology On The Response To COVID-19

What is 5G’s role in the COVID-19 response? How will it benefit the post-pandemic world?

In their 5G Outlook Series, the World Economic Forum (WEF) examines the effects of mobile technology on the COVID-19 response.

For the first part, the early examples of 5G technology being used as we speak and the future for 5G in the post-pandemic world will be discussed. Here, we will highlight the key points.

Connectivity trends and mobile technology use cases arising from COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has migrated a huge portion of the society’s activities to the online world. The use of mobile technology across multiple domains increased due to the coronavirus restrictions:

  • Work: With more people working from home, video conferencing and remote asset access make it easier for workers to coordinate.
  • Education: As schools are closed down, schools and universities have resorted to online learning methods, including virtual classrooms and the provision of educational content.
  • Socialisation: Group video chats and online gaming have rapidly become popular ways to continue socialising with other people while physical distancing measures are in place.
  • Commerce and retail: Online retail and food delivery services have both seen a surge in demand and revenue during the pandemic. The use of smart warehouses make it easier to keep workers safe while maintaining operations.

Moreover, using digital platforms has also been proven useful in public health. Through telemedicine, care can be remotely provided for those who need it. Contact tracing is also largely driven by artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

New capabilities enabled by 5G

Source: World Economic Forum
Source: World Economic Forum

The Forum points out that 5G can further enable this increased use of mobile technology. It will allow faster connections (up to 10 Gbps), expanded cellular coverage and machine-type communications, as well as quicker uploading times. On top of this, 5G is highly secure and power-efficient. Most of these functionalities are valuable assets in the pandemic response.

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The outlook for 5G

With 5G, the digital gap between those with and without high-speed connections can be bridged. Now that a reliable connection is increasingly becoming a necessity, the enhanced connectivity 5G can provide will benefit not only our health systems amid this pandemic but also the economy and society on the whole.

However, to make this happen, the Forum stresses the importance of collaboration between governments and industry in the rollout of 5G technologies.

Without the assistance and regulations from the government, the digital divide might only be further aggravated since the industry would favor an optimum return of investment and therefore target the wealthy first.

What does the future hold?

Right now, 5G can help in addressing gaps in connectivity — ensuring that people can learn, work, and live in safe conditions. In the post-pandemic world, an expanded 5G coverage would open the door to possibilities beyond what we can imagine.

If you want to know more about the functionalities enabled by 5G, you can read the Forum’s full paper (PDF).

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