Mobile network technology is constantly being updated, like any other growing technology in the world. And as part of this update, the fifth generation or 5G data network is revolutionizing the Internet worldwide. A standard 4G connection can offer speeds of up to 100 Mbps, while 5G’s data speeds can reach up to 10 Gbps, which is almost 100 times faster than 4G. In addition, the response time of a command on a 4G network is 50 milliseconds; on the other hand, 5G can respond to the same command in less than one millisecond. Starting from South Korea, countries like China, Japan, the USA, the UK, Switzerland, and the Philippines already use 5G networks. Apart from that, several countries, such as India and Australia, are building their own 5G network infrastructure. On 12th December of 2021, BTRC launched the initial 5G network in Bangladesh in collaboration with state-owned mobile operator Teletalk at Radisson Hotel in Dhaka.
Overview of 5G
The journey of the mobile internet in Bangladesh started in the 2000s with the help of some local mobile operators. Although at that time companies were providing 2nd generation GPRS and EDGE internet, the speed of which was plodding. Besides, the number of mobile internet users was deficient at that time. The main reasons for this were network unavailability in rural areas, high cost, poor service, lack of proper infrastructure and the lack of smartphone users. On 12th October of 2012, Teletalk introduced its first 3G service, entering a new era of high-speed internet in Bangladesh. Since then, the internet penetration rate has constantly been increasing. According to the BTRC, the number of mobile internet subscribers was around 3 crores (2.96 crores) in February 2012, which increased to 7.5 crores in January 2018. 4G Internet was introduced in Bangladesh in February 2018, and mobile internet users continue to grow. As a result, in October 2021, the number of users stood around 12 crores (11.9 crores). Huawei, a Chinese multinational technology corporation, played a huge role in launching 3G and 4G services in Bangladesh. According to TBS News, Huawei has worked with the ICT industry, telecom operators, and local partners in Bangladesh for over 21 years. In addition, Huawei has been providing 2G, 3G, and 4G network infrastructure and technological equipment to mobile operators such as Robi, Airtel, Grameenphone etc. On the other hand, with the blessing of the faster mobile internet, people’s communication through social media and audio-video calls keeps increasing. bKash, Nagad and other mobile banking services and fintech platforms continue to receive more traction. E-commerce platforms like Daraz, Chaldal, Rokomari and Bagdoom are also gaining popularity. High-speed mobile internet enables local and international OTT platforms like Netflix, Bongo, Bioscope and toffee to get a massive user base.
However, the latest version of the mobile Internet ‘5G’ has been introduced globally. According to The Daily Star, in 2020, out of 700 active telecom operators worldwide, 180 operators launched 5G services. Currently, 1.17 billion users worldwide are using the 5G network and by the end of 2022, this number is expected to increase to 2.5 billion. Bangladesh has also been trying to enter the era of 5G internet for a long time and recently conducted a soft launch of the 5G network. According to Financial Express, BTRC has been working on this project since 2018. That year, the organization ran a trial with Huawei where Robi participated as a mobile operator. Later, in 2020, Huawei participated in the Digital Bangladesh Mela, where visitors get the opportunity to experience 5G internet at gigabit speeds for free at Huawei’s pavilion. In addition, the company organizes a robot exhibition, an interactive humanoid robot could play ‘Soccer’ by following the hand gesture command. This event showcases how much communication between humans and machines can be improved through 5G technology. Huawei is currently leading the market in global 5G network development due to its advanced technology, equipment and infrastructure. The company has about 3 thousand technology patents, which is 60 percent of the total 5G patents.
Just months before the 5G soft launch, an agreement was signed at the office of state-owned mobile operator Teletalk with Huawei. Teletalk with the collaboration of Huawei runs 5G network tests in several areas of Dhaka, where 1.5 Gbps internet speeds and 7 to 10 milliseconds of latency are recorded for single users. Finally, on December 12, 2021, BTRC was able to successfully complete the soft launch of 5G. Under the agreement, Huawei provided Teletalk with necessary chipsets, software, and devices. At a press conference, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Division announced that 5G services will be available in the Bangladesh Secretariat, Prime Minister’s Office, Dhanmondi 32, The National Martyrs Memorial, Gopalgonj, Tungipara and the Bangladesh National Parliament. Initially, users who have 5G-enabled devices will be able to get this telecom service by converting their Teletalk 4G SIM to 5G network. The Bangladesh government has already allocated 60 MHz of spectrum for free to Teletalk and plans to organize a 5G spectrum auction for other mobile operators in March 2022. In the same month, the government plans to launch homemade 5G enabled phones. According to the Dhaka Tribune, Teletalk has already created five sites for 5G.
Impact of 5G in Bangladesh
The faster internet of this new 5G technology will have a more positive impact on the day-to-day life and business of the people of the country. Users will be able to communicate with each other faster than ever before. Also, in the case of entertainment and gaming at the individual level, 5G will bring revolution. Gaming enthusiasts will get a smooth and seamless gaming experience due to higher internet speed and low latency as a result of the 5G network. In addition, the use of AR / VR will further enhance the online gaming experience.
In addition to entertainment and gaming, the ed-tech industry will also grow due to the 5G Internet. The general public will make more use of international platforms, including local edtech platforms like 10 minutes school, Shikho, Bohubrihi and Programming hero. In addition to this, the use of upcoming technologies like Metaverse, which requires high-speed internet, will be easier to use due to 5G. The use of domestic and international OTT platforms will further increase among the general public. In particular, due to poor infrastructure in rural areas, since broadband internet has not yet reached those areas, they will be able to connect to these new services if 5G Internet is provided in those areas.
All industries will benefit from the implementation of 5G technology, but the healthcare sector will be most affected. In fact, this technology has the potential to transform the entire healthcare industry. In 2019, China became the first country in the world to successfully complete 5G-based remote surgery on the human brain. 5G technology can also play a groundbreaking role in the healthcare sector of Bangladesh. Providing medical services in rural areas of the country in an emergency situation is still a daunting task. However, there are several app-based medical service provider platforms in Bangladesh, such as Prava, Doctor Koi and Doctime.
Despite this, due to issues with internet speed, it can be hard to provide proper healthcare through these apps in rural areas. Through the 5G network, these healthcare platforms in the country will be able to provide services more quickly and efficiently. In addition, 5G-enabled technical equipment and machinery can bring more efficiency in the industrial operation and maintenance of the country’s shipping ports and RMG sector. In addition, 5G Technology will bring more efficiency to personal and commercial security and surveillance work. Demand for Internet-based and automated vehicles will continue to grow in the Bangladeshi market.
With the completion of 5G technology implementation at the individual and industrial levels, a smart ecosystem, digital society or smart city framework is expected to be implemented. Starting from home used gadgets, personal vehicles, and all services used in daily life will be digitally interconnected, which will help different regions of Bangladesh to move towards smart cities in the future.
According to Kevin Xu, Chief Technology Officer, Huawei Bangladesh, after the adoption of 3G and 4G networks, these networks have had such an impact on the daily life of the general public. On the other hand, after 5G adoption, a huge change can be noticed in the overall society of Bangladesh.