Less Traffic Jams And Pollution — Local Expert Shares What M'sians Can Expect With 5G

5G isn't just about download speeds, it's a game-changer for everything.

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This Spotlight is sponsored by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Set to transform and interconnect the way we live, 5G technology is expected to deliver more than just faster Internet connectivity

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology that is significantly faster and more capable than previous network connections like 4G.

While it can certainly provide much faster data rates, it can, more importantly, support new functionalities across various industries as well. 

So, how exactly can 5G technology serve Malaysians and transform lives?

Meet Associate Professor Dr Bruce Leow, a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia's School of Electrical Engineering.

As infrastructure to support 5G is in the process of being built across the country, the expert spoke about the benefits Malaysians can expect to reap from the new wireless technology.

Dr Leow is currently leading a team of researchers on two cases for smart cities powered by new tech like 5G in Malaysia. One is about the usage of drones and Internet of Things (IoT) environmental monitoring to perform missions related to emergency responses and public safety, while the other is on the effect of interference on the drones between 5G base stations.

"The plan for this year is to have 40% of the population covered with 5G, and then in the next two years, in 2024, we're going to see more extensive 5G coverage, which will cover about 80% of the population in Malaysia," shared Dr Leow in a recent virtual interview with SAYS.

He added that 5G is "ten times more responsive compared to 4G networks", but the process of attaining that technology "is not just plug and play," which is why it's going to take time before it fully rolls out.

"You have to not only install the base station, but you have to connect the base station with high-speed fibre connectivity. All these things require installation and construction work," he said.

According to Dr Leow, here are some things that Malaysians can anticipate with the rollout of 5G technology:

1. More advanced healthcare that makes remote surgery via robotics possible

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Forbes

Thanks to 5G's reliable and high-speed, real-time connection, doctors will be able to perform urgent surgery on patients despite being geographically in different locations.

"At the same time, you can also be wearing wearables, which will transmit and share some of the vitals or your health condition to the electronic medical system, and with that, the doctor will be able to diagnose your disease remotely.

"Especially for the elderly, they can wear all those wearables as well. If they're alone in the house, if anything happens, then the wearables can actually alert the family members or even the nearest hospital to provide assistance," shared Dr Leow.

2. Less traffic congestion and an all-around better transportation system

Image via GovInsider

5G technology aims to address issues like traffic jams, inefficient public transportation, and more through a central system that uses artificial intelligence. This optimises the flow or efficiency of traffic, helping users to plan their travel journey.

Dr Leow said, "Currently, the systems run independently. They are not connected, which means that things like traffic lights don't talk to each other. But with 5G, the traffic lights can talk to each other, then they can be kind of synchronised and change according to the traffic conditions.

"If we're able to solve this issue, then we're going to spend less time travelling on the road. We'll have more time to do our work, and more time to spend during the evening with our family."

3. A revamped economy that banks on creating 750,000 skilled job opportunities

Image via Inside Telecom

"In terms of economy, it's very important for a smart city to be equipped with 5G. That's where all the businesses are attracted to have their headquarters located — in a smart city. 

"The reason? It's because they have the best infrastructure. We have companies coming to set up their offices and their branches in the smart cities because they have a very good network to improve the productivity of the businesses," Dr Leow shared, adding that new job opportunities will be generated as more companies are attracted to the prospects of 5G operations in the country. 

4. Accurate environmental monitoring and real-time updates on natural disasters

From flash floods to extreme weather conditions, 5G "can help minimise the occurrence of pollution and [natural disasters], with a high-quality, real-time monitoring system in place."

"Take, for example, the air pollution index," offered Dr Leow. "With the spatial resolution that we have, we can pinpoint the source of the pollution. So, let's say a nearby factory is emitting a kind of dangerous fume, then through this kind of sensor technology, we can actually pinpoint where it's coming from, [and] from which factory in the area."

Drones can also be deployed as an aerial base station during natural occurrences like floods. This provides temporary 5G coverage which can be used to support search and rescue operations, as well as enable flood victims to call for help.

5. Self-driving cars and other autonomous technology

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via The Pollack Group

"Currently, in Malaysia, I think we have designated some roads in Cyberjaya to test autonomous vehicles. So that's also very interesting to see eventually, where one day we can sit in the car without a driver, and the car drives by itself to bring us to our destination.

"It sounds like sci-fi, right?," said Dr Leow with a laugh. "But it's actually happening. It's happening so it's not something too far-fetched. Some self-driving vehicles are actually here. It's just [a matter of] time to see when it can become mature and more commonly available."

6. An elevated experience when it comes to virtual learning, mobile phone usage, and keeping connected with loved ones

Be it city centres or small towns, students and teachers will be able to make use of the high-speed broadband provided by 5G networks, bringing virtual learning to a whole new level.

"We can have more applications like augmented reality, virtual reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, video calls, and so on," said Dr Leow, adding that they not only improve productivity, but also give better leisure, entertainment, or educational experiences. 

"City dwellers will also be able to keep in touch with family members, even if they're outside of the city, using the immersive, ultra-high definition video call solution, and it's as if you can see the person in front of you [in] real [life]."

All in all, 5G is predicted to boost every aspect of life, from public safety and service to education, healthcare, and everything in between

As Dr Leow puts it, "The basic building blocks of a smart city is its infrastructure... 5G is going to cover and provide the most advanced network infrastructure for a smart city.

"Personally, I would like to see more pervasive use of drone technologies... Maybe in the next few years, when I look up in the sky, I'll see drones flying around, delivering parcels and supplies. And [even] drones flying around to monitor traffic."

If you'd like to discover more promising capabilities that 5G will bring in the near future, visit MCMC's website today!

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