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Deloitte claims 5G can help fight Coronavirus

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A White Paper from Deloitte has informed that 5G can enhance the effectiveness of pandemic prevention and treatment and drive the digital transformation of healthcare systems in response to major public emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The White Paper titled, “Combating COVID-19 with 5G: Opportunities to improve public health systems” was produced in collaboration with Huawei.

During the outbreak in China, telecommunications operators collaborated with Huawei to rapidly set up a specific 5G network dedicated to COVID-19 treatment hospitals. The White Paper analyses examples of COVID-19 control and treatment measures in China and identified challenges that face epidemic management in terms of monitoring, quarantine and treatment.

Amongst its findings, the White Paper noted that the effectiveness of communication and data exchange has been essential in screening for infected individuals and controlling the outbreak, adding that by enabling thermal imaging, continuous remote monitoring and diagnoses during patient transfer.

The research also highlighted the need to build and upgrade public health emergency response mechanisms, through which governments can make right decisions promptly and allocate resources more effectively.

In this regard, 5G can also promote collaboration by enabling connectivity, maintaining effective communication among hospitals, and enable medical data and reference sharing between hospitals and scientific research institutions, especially “in the rapid increases in data volume and mounting demand for remote and HD-video based treatment” scenario.

In addition, the report indicates that the success of 5G applications in the public health domain could also inspire new business models in other sectors. It finds that as a result of 5G features such as high-speed connection, high reliability and low latency, the healthcare system has benefited from improved response times, patient monitoring, data collection and analytics, remote collaboration and resource allocation. It also sets an example for digitalised, data-driven and Cloud-based innovative major public emergency response platforms.

Already, Nigeria is the first country in West Africa that has carried out 5G trials. Specifically, MTN Nigeria demoed 5G network in November 2019. This was done in Abuja, Calabar, and Lagos respectively, with the hope of a nationwide commercial launch anytime soon.

The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) has also predicted that seven African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, will have commercial 5G services by 2025. It is expected to account for only three per cent of total mobile connections on the continent (and 14% globally).

However, the CEO of MTN Group, Rob Shuter, said many countries are not ready for the fifth-generation network. Rob said: “What we are doing now is to learn from the technology and get our network ready for it but I think 3G is much more relevant in most of our markets.”

In addition, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that commercialisation of 5G networks in Nigeria will be impacted negatively by power infrastructure gaps that currently exist in the country. Besides, the current state of fibre infrastructure, which remains inadequate in the country, is also seen as another major challenge that may hinder deployment.

Director, Technical Standard and Network Integrity, NCC, Bako Wakil, said 5G is a clear departure from 3G and 4G networks. Wakil said 5G also known as IMT 2020 has been designed with huge capability and requirements for today and future need.

According to him, having carried out a successful trial in the country, the next is commercialisation, “but we have identified the erratic power situation, and low fibre infrastructure as major limitations to its deployment on a large scale in Nigeria.”

While the NCC can comfortably address the fibre infrastructure gap, Wakil said: “power generation and distribution is not within our purview, but we are working with the relevant agencies to see what can be done.”


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