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Why 5G May Shape the Future for Founders in Asia Pacific Experts say 5G will be a foundational technology, like electricity

By Apol Tokwator

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Founders tend to laser-focus on the technologies that may have an impact on their particular sector, at the cost of ignoring developments at large that may affect everyone. One such example is the advent of 5G, short for 5th generation mobile network service, that many experts predict will be a foundational technology like electricity. Since 5G will enable download speeds of up to 1500 Mbps, there may be thousands of new products now made possible by the lightning fast internet, to say nothing of how existing solutions must change or face disruption.

One of the first countries in Southeast Asia to roll-out 5G is the Philippines, via a partnership between local telcom Globe and Chinese tech giant Huawei, though the deployment is still in its earliest stages. Many other countries in greater Asia Pacific also have 5G also in their sights, including Vietnam and Indonesia, so it's imperative that founders begin to understand how the advent of 5G will impact businesses.

5G will sharpen the work-life boundary. Many analysts predict that 5G will lead to an increase in employees working after hours, since they will now be able to perform the most data-intensive tasks from even a phone. Imagine being able to teleconference on Skype or Zoom with multiple users while stuck in traffic and chat with your colleagues in perfect clarity, free from the fear the call will drop. That will surely happen. But just as bound to come is the separation between work hours and personal time.

As our handheld devices become more capable of performing work tasks, there will be a call to more clearly establish work hours as work hours and personal time as personal time. It may not be as extreme as some countries, like France, where sending after-hours work is illegal unless paid as overtime, but there will be a correction.

Founders need to prepare by putting the frameworks in place that will enable them to get the most out of employees while at work. In other words, you need to optimize your work-hours, so what may take others to accomplish across a whole day can be more efficiently done in between work hours.

5G will finally make smart cities mainstream. For most people, smart cities sound far removed from our present reality. While most of us have smart phones, and some of us have smart devices like Alexa, the idea of living in an interconnected, smart city sounds like the stuff of science fiction.

And for the most part, it is.

Most cities in Southeast Asia do not have the internet infrastructure fast or reliable enough to power the smart sensors, devices, and screens necessary for a truly smart city. When it comes, 5G will be the backbone of Asia's smart cities, enabling the same responsiveness we expect of our smart phone screens to leap into life in our buildings, walkways, streets, and shared spaces

Cambodia, for instance, is throwing its hat into the 5G arms race. 5G could further enhance its plans to develop its planned smart city in Phnom Penh. The 100-hectare development, which is being developed in partnership with blockchain developer Pundi X and cloud services provider Limestone Network, is set to be the country's central business district. The city's infrastructure will be built atop the blockchain, and 5G will only stand to further improve the quality of this network.

Founders would be wise to plan ways they can integrate their solutions into the fabric of smart cities like Cambodia's, just as APIs once allow them to connect their product with other software. Smart cities will represent a whole new way for brands to integrate themselves into the lives of their target audiences.

5G will increase the importance of internet service providers. The rollout of 5G is a truly global effort, requiring the individual and collective action of dozens of different companies, including everyone from tech giants like Hewlett-Packard and Intel to telecom companies like AT&T and Telenor.

As 5G becomes a foundational technology, the companies along its value chain will become even more significant as an industry. Social trading platform eToro is even willing to bet that some private investors will want to bet on the industry as a whole, as it recently created a CopyPortfolio of 45 companies at the helm of 5G. Investors who back the portfolio are banking on the growth of the sector, growing as exponentially as electricity did between the lighting of the first light bulb and the deployment of the nation-wide electrical grid.

Founders would be smart to consider direct investments into the 5G space, as it gives them multiple ways to build their venture. First, they can ride a bullish trend as 5G comes into the mainstream, by investing into the industry while it's still nascent. And then once 5G becomes commonplace for both consumers and enterprises, they can also earn from their company's use of 5G. Such forward-thinking founders will be able to derive value across the entire life cycle of 5G, a measure of both their short-term agility as well as their strategic thinking.

The bottom line for founders thinking about 5G

The hype for 5G is not without merit. 5G will spring up an entirely new cottage industry of internet service providers and change the way that people in Asia work and live. With such monumental changes on the way, founders ought to carefully consider how they can prepare, adapt, or invest into the new technology.

Many of us may have missed the boat on investing in cryptocurrency or building with blockchain, but we can still be well ahead of the curve for 5G. If we want to take advantage of this opportunity, we must move to embrace it with the same speed it will bring to our devices.

Apol Tokwator

Founder, Neinee90s

Apol Tokwator is a Business Enthusiast and the Founder of Neinee90s, a platform where people can find goods that represent the past.


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