Mobile technology has been on a remarkable journey through the past couple of decades. The capabilities of smartphones and tablets have shifted to a whole new level through the period, with apps now allowing us to do so many things at the simple touch of a button. From work and entertainment to general communication, it is fair to say that we have felt almost everywhere the impact of mobile platforms and services. But, while the devices and software available have certainly evolved, there has also been a shift in the networks that we use to access such elements. Significant advancements have been made in this area, with the latest iteration of network technology capturing plenty of attention in recent years. Yes, 5G has well and truly arrived and it looks set to have a major impact on our lives in many ways.
A big talking point
5G has been a major talking point in the past few years. However, for the uninitiated, it is worth starting right at the beginning by explaining what it means. Ericsson outlines how the term relates to the fifth generation of mobile networks and it adds that the technology is up to 100 times faster than 4G. This capability means that 5G is expected to have a huge impact across a range of areas, with the Ericsson website detailing just a few examples. It touches upon the idea of it improving safety, with connected vehicles, sensors, and the faster deployment of emergency services. The site also references “elevating experiences” with fresh interactions on live and remote events, and this could impact on a range of forms of entertainment. For instance, 888 Casino offers a host of blackjack titles on its platform. They include variations in the live casino format, including 888 Xtra Blackjack and 888 Hotseat. The website explains how these games feature dealers in real-time, while players can even communicate with them via Live Chat. Just imagine how 5G could boost that experience, with streaming and interactions becoming quicker than ever before.
Elsewhere, we have previously covered how 5G could impact healthcare, while there has also been discussion about its green credentials too. Back in 2020, Andy Purdy wrote on Forbes how the technology is very energy efficient. He stated that it can make every industry greener, while it may also eliminate waste. In terms of the latter, he explained how 5G wireless cells can shut down when no data traffic is detected, with this potentially cutting base station energy use by 40 percent.
5G in Africa
But, while the buzz around 5G is clearly very strong, what does all of this mean for the continent of Africa? Well, first of all, it is worth getting a sense of the technology’s presence in the country and how it has developed in recent times. According to an article published by Quartz Africa last year, just two countries currently have 5G networks in place. Safaricom has launched one in Kenya, while MTN and Vodacom introduced the technology in South Africa in 2020. The website adds that trials are also underway in other countries and recent reports related have backed this up to activity in Zambia. Earlier this month, XinhuaNet.com reported that MTN had rolled out a pilot 5G network in the country. The move has been made in partnership with Huawei and it reportedly makes MTN the first mobile service provider to launch such an offering in Zambia.
Returning to the Quartz Africa article for a moment, it also touched upon some of the enormous benefits that the technology is expected to have across Africa. Speaking to the website, Kenechi Okeleke of GSMA Intelligence detailed how 5G could have a massive impact on both businesses and schools that do not have access to fiber-optic broadband technology. He added that this was particularly important in modern times with work, education, and other issues like entertainment taking place in the online domain.
But, while 5G is clearly destined to have an impact on a range of areas, it is worth dwelling on the world of work for the moment. Last year, research by Ericsson examined the future of 5G in the sub-Saharan Africa region. It found that remote working in South Africa had increased to 66 percent in recent times. Furthermore, there was also the forecast that sub-Saharan Africa will be home to 70 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2026.
The apparent interest in remote working in this region clearly raises some big possibilities about what the future could hold. With access to 5G seemingly set to rise in the next few years, it will be interesting to see how the technology ultimately affects working practices and the way that businesses choose to operate. After all, there is a potential argument that people and businesses will not necessarily need to be in larger cities in order to thrive. If this ultimately proves to be the case, this could have an impact on the spread of wealth across the continent and cause a significant shift in existing patterns throughout the region.
It almost goes without saying that technology has had – and continues to have – a major impact across the world. However, it is always intriguing to put a spotlight on Africa and reflect on the influence that innovations are having on the continent. 5G has become a major buzzword in recent times, with many believing that mobile technology offers massive potential for individuals, industries, and infrastructure.
It will be interesting to see how the rollout of the technology plays out in Africa and how it affects everyday life in the continent. The 5G journey in the region is only just beginning, so could it go on to have a significant impact on business and beyond? It will be fascinating to see how matters develop.
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