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5G: Debunking myths, realities and opportunities

By Sara Okuoro | May 6th 2020

As we fight a global common adversary in the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, to survive and prosper, we have had to change the way we live, study and work. In Kenya we are moving towards E-learning, online shopping and business through videoconferencing.

5G network will result in a massive increase in data speeds, lower latencies, and the capacity to carry large numbers of connections simultaneously, changing how people interact with the internet and inspiring innovation and new services.

Myths about 5G

The Kenya ICT Action Network in partnership with Huawei on Monday hosted a 90-minute interactive webinar on 5G.

The Webinar, themed 5G Myths, Realities and Opportunities, focused on debunking dangerous conspiracy theories circulating on social media while providing insight into what the fifth generation wireless technology means, the impact it will have on our lives and the opportunities it will bring to Kenya.

The panelists rubbished perceptions that 5G is linked to Covid-19, saying the myths are false and baseless.  The experts outlined the multiple digital opportunities offered by the new technology in the Era of Covid-19 on industry, particularly, in the health care sector, while outlining the 5G’s basic terminologies, innovation and industry standards.

National Communications Secretary, CEO Daniel Obam, a spectrum expert, squashed some of the myths about the new technology saying, “World Health Organisation has conclusive evidence that mobile phones do not cause any harm; 5G uses non-ionizing radiation that is not dangerous. The radio waves from 5G are tiny and they are nowhere strong enough to affect the immune system. They are less powerful even than visible light”.

Representatives from Huawei, the global leader in 5G, made a presentation on how the 5G Enabled Digital world will transform the digital economy and lifestyles from connected cars and factory automation to smart grids.

Using 5G

“As a user you will experience better download and upload speeds. In terms of smart meters, instead of sending individuals to come to your house to read a meter, millions of smart meters can report back to the central network on their own,” explained John Walubengo, Lecturer at the Multimedia University.

Huawei shared suggestions for governments’ 5G roadmaps, which start with making more contiguous spectrum available in a timely manner, and also focuses on joint innovation with industry and government.

“Many countries have developed 5G national strategies; indeed, it is becoming a cornerstone of national development strategies. The contributions estimated by different countries are quite staggering and some countries have even analyzed how much greater the benefits would be from a quick roll-out compared to a slow roll-out,” said Huawei’s Kenya Deputy CEO Adam Lane.

The firm’s Southern Africa Senior Director of Innovation and ICT Strategies, Dr. Bello Moussa, emphasised the tremendous opportunities for 5G to connect homes and businesses with fiber-like speeds, in various uses within hospitals, particularly during COVID-19, when you don’t want human contact, as well as various industries such as tourism and ports. He gave examples in tourism industry of where hotels will be able to use 5G to ensure every room has high-speed Wi-Fi without needing cables going to each room, how live streaming, virtual reality and augmented reality applications can help generate new revenue for tourist attractions and could even be tried during COVID-19 with tourists participating virtually.

In the ports, transport and logistics industry which is also critical to the Kenyan economy, 5G will mean more efficiency in checking consignments using cameras, sensors and scanners; moving consignments around safely with self-driving vehicles and improving collaboration with vehicles, workers and the different government agencies involved.

As far as regulation is concerned, Communications Authority of Kenya’s Acting Manager for Frequency Planning, Ann Kinyanjui, noted that the Authority is looking at different licensing methodologies, the amount of bandwidth to be offered to operators and frequency spectrum allocations. She reiterated that the CA will continue participating in future 5G studies and work with relevant stakeholders to develop strategies for that will be benefit Kenya.

Leveraging 5G will require a change in mindsets. Organizations and people that will embrace the change faster will gain a competitive advantage over those that will not.

Covid 19 Time Series


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