5G in the Philippines in 2021 and Beyond

Published January 28, 2021, 7:40 AM

by MB Technews

By Nigel Waters, Customer Business Executive, Amdocs, APAC

Nigel Waters

As COVID-19’s disruption of modern society continues, its biggest impact to date has been on the telecom industry. While traditionally considered an industry vertical, it’s being increasingly perceived as a “horizontal” – an industry central to all others – including education, healthcare, entertainment, retail, and almost every business.

Think about how a robust telecom network has been successfully enabling:

  • Millions of Filipinos to work from home
  • Enterprises to find new ways to operate remotely and sell their products and services digitally
  • Healthcare services to perform optimally
  • School and colleges to provide education online
  • People to be entertained at home

In today’s evolving reality, the need for robust telecom networks and services has never been so strong. And while Filipinos are among the world’s top consumers of social media, as well as the internet in general, our connectivity and speed fall significantly short of the global average.

5G is set to change this. As the technology becomes accessible to increasing numbers of consumers across the country, the Filipino digital lifestyle is set to evolve even further. It will enable everything from unprecedented OTT media and online gaming experiences all the way to new methods of learning, better access to healthcare and new ways of doing business.

The need for a highly reliable, robust, resilient broadband connection

Through their willingness to pay more for a fiber optics or 5G connection, Filipino consumers are demonstrating just how important a highly reliable and robust broadband connections is to their lifestyle’s needs. For service providers, this opens a huge opportunity to not just expand home broadband services, but to upgrade from a “supplier of connectivity” to a “provider of high-speed, low-latency 5G services”. Indeed already, many operators have significantly broadened their offerings. Examples include education, entertainment and infrastructure support for digital business. Yet for consumers to enjoy the enhanced customer experience this can bring, they must also offer services that provide high-speed connectivity combined with low latency. A good example is 5G FWA (fixed wireless access) for home broadband connectivity. Further opportunities for service providers lie in creating applications that enable consumers to work from home in a more secure manner, increase the efficacy and “realness” of remote learning, improve access to quality education for students in remote areas, provide patients with better access to health care infrastructure, and help government agencies manage disasters and natural calamities.

Overall, the two areas to immediately benefit from 5G are education and entertainment, especially online cloud gaming. The past year has shown that that despite the shortcomings of existing infrastructure, these services can be effectively delivered using internet technologies. As 5G becomes more widely available in 2021, the Philippines will see drastic improvements in online education. In a post-COVID world, online learning will set to take a key role in the educational ecosystem, providing new opportunities to underprivileged students who lack the resources enjoyed by their wealthier counterparts. This will be enabled through faster downloads of high-definition, quality video content, allowing for live, buffer-free interactive learning.

In its more advanced form, 5G also creates possibilities for augmented and virtual reality-aided learning, opening up a whole new world of techniques for delivering virtual education to remote and under-developed locations.

In entertainment, 5G will be an enabler of much enhanced customer experiences – from faster content downloads and 4K video streaming, to immersive online gaming experiences—with minimal or zero latency. Meanwhile, the vibrant OTT media services already on offer will evolve further, with better live streaming and 4K and 8K content experiences.

Gaming – both online and cloud (gaming as a service) – as well as e-sports are also set to get a major boost as internet speed, latency and accessibility improve. To put this in perspective, there are around 2.7 billion gamers in the world who in 2020, spent around $160 billion on games alone. On average, they spend around $260 a month on games, accessories, subscriptions and connectivity. By 2023, this market is expected to grow to $200 billion. Filipinos are some of the most avid online gamers and for them, the real-lifelike immersive mobile and cloud gaming experience represents one of the most important promises of 5G. As a result, for young gamers, the mobile and cloud gaming experience, together with relevant bundled offers will soon become one the most important criteria for choosing a service provider.

While these opportunities represent a huge growth opportunity for service providers, to take full advantage of the today’s emerging business models, these players must first develop the agility to rapidly launch new 5G offers to consumers and partners, open their ecosystem and simplify business models.