Just a few weeks ago, South Korea and the USA were in a race to be the first to deliver 5G. The winner depends on who you're asking, as both claim to be the first in their own way. But even with all the excitement brought on by telcos and tech enthusiast at the beginning, the reception for it (figuratively and literally) now has waned.
Not every country has 5G, with some only their cattle having it to test its power in agriculture. But those who do have it aren’t exactly shouting about it either. There's a few reasons why people's expectation in 5G is waning - the biggest reason being that there doesn't seem to be any difference. Nothing has changed.
For months before 5G was launched, all everyone could talk about was the benefits and impact of 5G; from Internet of Things (IoT), faster loading times, instant downloads and more. But to those who already have 5G, they can attest that there's barely any difference from before and even if there is, they're not feeling it.
This is due to how limited access is to 5G. For South Korea, there are only 85,000 5G base stations installed throughout the country; 86% of which are only concentrated in Seoul and five other major cities. As for the USA, Minneapolis was the first city to have 5G and yet it's not as accessible as it's claimed to be.
Even if there is a connection, it's unstable and doesn't last as long as promised. To the point that it may as well not be around considering its limited and unstable connection. It certainly looks like the launch of 5G was done prematurely, only setting up hype for something that isn’t quite as ready as it seems.
As 5G requires higher data capacity and installation costs compared to 3G or 4G networks, industry experts say it would take two to three years for at least all of South Korea to be fully covered by 5G. Only then could residents feel a truly seamless experience. What more for the USA, a much bigger country. Until then, just like foldable smartphones, it's best to wait for the technology to spread its wings and not buy into it yet.
How about Malaysia?
With the 5G Malaysia Showcase happening this week, it's a good chance to see whether or not our very own local tech and telcos are capable of bringing 5G to Malaysia. Yet it's hard to really be excited when you consider how some areas in the country are still using Streamyx, and highest speed of up to 3G.
So as much as it is exciting for Malaysia to develop and grow like other countries, it may be time to step back and not jump into the hype too much. If South Korea and the USA isn't feeling it, then I doubt we will be feeling it too.
Yet maybe this teething process is a necessity, which will lead the way to better 5G connectivity all over Malaysia in the next few years. After all, having 5G could not only change the way we live, but also save many lives if implemented in hospitals especially. But until then, it's best to wait and see.