Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines named as likely 5G laggards (Nikkei Asian Review)

Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines will lag behind other Asian countries in the deployment of fifth-generation mobile networks, although Singapore is poised to lead the race, a recent report said.

Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney published a report in late September that projected that 5G penetration will reach at most 40% within almost all of the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by 2025. Singapore will outperform its peers, with an expected penetration rate of close to 60% by 2025.

The report said countries like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines could find themselves in a “lose-lose” situation where 5G is selectively rolled out and enterprises are unwilling to pay a premium for the network. Under this scenario, consumers and businesses would be reluctant to fork out extra cash because they perceive limited benefits over existing 3G or 4G networks. Operators would respond by focusing on recouping their investments in the existing networks, limiting the expansion of 5G infrastructure.

The report warned that in this situation, 5G would become “just another technology layer” rather than a breakthrough.

Singapore plans to have 5G up and running in 2020, while Malaysia is expected to announce spectrum allocations for 5G service providers next year. Mobile carriers in Vietnam and Cambodia are working with equipment providers to deploy the necessary infrastructure, which is expected to offer internet speeds of up to 50 times faster than current 4G systems.

The lead author of the A.T. Kearney report, Nikolai Dobberstein, said regulators will play a central role in the development of next-generation cellular networks. He said authorities would need to ensure near-term spectrum availability, foster infrastructure-sharing and nurture national cybersecurity capabilities.

“The overall potential of 5G rollout in ASEAN is substantial. However, to live up to the full potential, the region will need to address the main challenges,” he wrote in the report.

Experts believe differences in technology infrastructure among Southeast Asian countries will lead to mixed results in deployment. Another report by the International Institute for Management Development highlighted the gap between ASEAN’s smallest country, Singapore, and its neighbors.


Nikkei Asian Review

3 October 2019

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