Can Indonesia’s Rural Areas Receive the Benefits of 5G Technology?
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 || By Priscila Asoka

Introduction

To many of us, internet connection has become a daily necessity – meaning that there is a wide demand for not only internet availability but a fast and wireless one too. With a growing need for wireless internet connections, it is no surprise that the technology we have now needs to be updated, and therefore the next-generation 5G wireless internet is in the making. However, is it a significant change as it has been said? Maybe it is a long-awaited technology to be rejoiced for those living in modern urban cities, but can those in rural areas receive the benefits of 5G as well?

 

About the 5G technology

5G – the fifth generation of wireless network technology – is promised to provide even faster and more reliable connections for internet users.[1] The internet has penetrated our daily lives through smartphones, wearables, cars, and even homes. Therefore, the need for stable internet connection has proliferated. We demand improved internet speeds to power our numerous devices better. For these data transfer speeds to be significantly faster, a new form of wireless network is required, and 5G may be the answer to that.[2] Giant telecommunication and technology companies, namely Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, as well as Samsung, Nokia, and Intel, are currently developing their 5G to turn it into a reality soon.[3] In 2018, we can see the debut of 5G technology when it was used to stream live VR coverage of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and when it was tested in several locations in the United States.[4] However, 5G may not be widely accessible for everyone yet until 2020. Below is a summary of what we can expect from using 5G technology on our devices:

 

The main benefits of 5G technology[5]

Faster speed

 

5G download speeds are up to 10 gigabits per second, where a full high-definition movie can be downloaded in 1 second.

 

Reduced latency

 

Delays or lags of when data is sent to when data is received will be shorter.

 

 

Improved connectivity

 

More people and more devices can be connected to communicate all at the same time.

Source: NBC News

 

Lack of connectivity in Indonesia’s rural areas

5G promises some positive aspects of better technology emergence in the future, but the infrastructures needed to make it work will be something mainly available in the urban areas. Taking a look at Indonesia, even the latest 4G technology we have is still not prevalent enough. According to Deloitte Global Mobile Survey 2016, only 40% of Indonesia’s population use the 4G network to access the Internet, compared to four other Southeast Asia countries that have at least 55%.[6] The latest update on Indonesia’s 4G availability in 2018 shows the inequality of wireless network technology proliferation in different areas, with just 55.05% in administrative villages, 56.98% in sub-districts, and 64.6% in districts.[7] Clearly, this raises further concern on whether or not 5G will be a technology that can benefit society as a whole instead of just certain areas. Looking at 4G’s still less optimized coverage, it may be even harder and longer for 5G to benefit urban and rural areas equally considering how setting up 5G technology will require more resources.

The lack of internet connectivity and coverage in rural areas are already a problem, but it is also feared that operators will find rural areas less desirable to deploy 5G networks in.[8] The deployment of 5G in rural and urban areas is different in cell sizes and radio frequencies used.[9] It will cost a whole lot of resources to justify 5G arrangements in rural areas unlike in urban cities, but if it can be done, it will bring positive changes to the broader society.      

 

Conclusion

The emergence of 5G technology is something to look forward to because it will bring forth pervasively faster connections. However, it is essential to address the need for rural areas to receive the same technology as urban areas. There will be challenges in the attempt to introduce 5G services in rural areas. Research is needed to define the technological and infrastructural solutions to these challenges.[10] Nonetheless, it will be great to see all of us within a new generation of connectivity called 5G sometime soon.  

Editors: Atin Prabandari, MA(IR) & Nabeel Khawarizmy Muna, S.IP

 

Picture: pexels

 

[1] Campanaro, A. (2018). What is 5G? The next wireless revolution explained. [online] NBC News. Available at https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/tech/what-5g-next-wireless-revolution-explained- ncna855816 [Accessed 5 May 2018]

[2] Nunez, M. (2016). What Is 5G and How Will It Make My Life Better? [online] Gizmodo. Available at https://gizmodo.com/what-is-5g-and-how-will-it-make-my-life-better-1760847799 [Accessed 5 May 2018]

[3] Netscribes.com, (2017). Top companies leading 5G development. [online] Available at https://www.netscribes.com/top-companies-leading-5g-development/ [Accessed 5 May 2018]

[4] Campanaro, A. & Nunez, M.

[5] Campanaro, A.

[6] Deloitte, (2017). Global Mobile Consumer Survey: Southeast Asia edition. [online] Available at https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/sg/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/sea-tmt-2017-global-mobile-consumer-survey-sea-edition.pdf [Accessed 14 May 2018]

[7] Indotelko.com, (2018). Jaringan 4G sudah selimuti 64,6% kabupaten di Indonesia. [online] Available at https://www.indotelko.com/kanal?c=id&it=jaringan-4g-kabupaten-indonesia [Accessed 5 May 2018]

[8] Chiaraviglio, L., et al. (2016). 5G In Rural and Low-Income Areas: Are We Ready? [online] Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305443447_5G_In_Rural_and_ Low-Income_Areas_Are_We_Ready [Accessed 5 May 2018]

[9] Rysavy, P. (2018). Industry Voices—Rysavy: How 5G will solve rural broadband. [online] Fierce Wireless. Available at https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/industry-voices-rysavy-how-5g-will- solve-rural-broadband [Accesed 5 May 2018]

[10] Chiaraviglio, L., et. al.