Does Pakistan need 5G/5thGeneration Mobile? Can we afford this technology? Would it replace the existing so-called 4G in Pakistan? Are we that technologically-advanced that we should be the first nation in South Asia to test 5thgeneration cellular services for fast connectivity? Are our institutions, both the federal and the provincial, ready for the coordination required for the usage of 5G? There are so many other questions to be answered before we talk about having 5G.
Undoubtedly, technology helps in terms of efficiency and productivity, however, it is the usage and affordability as well. It would be great to go for the 5G and also to be the first nation in South Asia. Some time back, it was discussed in the largest economy of the world, USA, that 5G could be quite an expensive commodity to talk about. Even the questions of affordability of the usage of 5G were discussed in the Wall Street which is the place for the technology to be used.
If 5G technology is being considered an expensive commodity with the cost estimate of around $200 billion a year in the USA which is an economy worth $19 trillion, Pakistan with an economy of around $300 billion may find it very expensive. It would be great to have a digital Pakistan with digital economy if we can do it and afford it and the most importantly if it is needed at this particular juncture to invest when we are pressed and we need more and more in the government coffers to put our house in order and avoid default, God forbid!
Pakistan did win the GSMA award around a year ago which indicates that we are on the go and would embrace the technology as it comes through, however, we need to look at the reality as well. It was proclaimed at the government level almost a year ago that Pakistan would be the first country in South Asia to test 5thgeneration cellular services for fast connectivity. Great news! Looking at the nation with more than 64% of the total population below the age of 30 years, it looks promising to have technology, however, it is also a reality that Pakistan is one of the poorest countries in the world with living standards not up to the standards as enjoyed even by the developing countries. Wouldn’t it be a big dichotomy that on the one hand we have a stratum of the society with 5G and on the other hand a major chunk of the population going hungry every day?
We should never be against the use of technology if it is available not at the expense of the basic amenities for the millions of underprivileged in the country. 5G must be the priority after the malaise in the society has been addressed and the hunger and the poverty have been tackled with prudence and sincerity.
The commercial launch of 5G is expected in a couple of years throughout the globe and the leading companies such as Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, Intel etc. are leading the development of this dream come true as well as eye opening technology. Various sectors such as telecom, aviation etc. of the economy in the global arena are moving forward to use this upcoming technology to benefit their customers and the world.
What do we need at present? using technology to control our home appliances, boost home security, conserve energy with optimization technique, personalizing entertainment etc. Or to at least provide basic health and education facilities to the masses and develop infrastructure to underpin the economic prosperity. If technology is to be used, it should be used for smart agriculture so that we may at least have food security for the burgeoning population of over 208 million.
It is also true that if we do not use 5G as it would be used by almost the entire world, we would be left behind and our children would find it too difficult to catch up with the rest of the world particularly with the developed economies. Benefits of the upcoming revolutionary technology are still to be understood by even the so-called experts since many things are still not obvious such as cost-benefit ratio. 5G is a technological paradigm shift which would be sine qua non for everyone whether or not liked. Here comes the huge question of deciding whether to decide to use it as it would be used by the world or to be the laggards and go for the wait-and-see approach and look at our kitty and wait for the time when it would be easy to afford. It is being said that the paradigm shift created by 5G would revolutionize the way the business is done today.
We would off course find it difficult to keep pace with the world without 5G particularly in the realm of business. Healthcare may be one of the most beneficiaries of the 5G since it would bring ease for all the stakeholders.
Pakistan is blessed with intelligent minds and the world does envy such brilliant manpower possessed by Pakistan. However, the right direction to move with the world or at least to catch up with the world is still missing.