The announcement on December 17 of the provisional winners of 5G licences is expected to kick off the creation of a whole range of new services and business opportunities in Cyprus.
Cyta, Primetel, Epic and Cablenet are all bidding to get the most frequencies possible. The more frequencies obtained, the more clients reached, and services offered.
The full benefits of the new technology will become obvious once an eco-system of applications and solutions is built around it, able to provide changes to our everyday lives, including smart cities, precision farming, internet of things and many other applications, as one industry source noted.
The scale of the benefits offered is vast: wireless technology specialist Qualcomm expects the transition to 5G will boost global GDP by $3 trillion, providing over 22 million jobs by 2035.
“The existence of the network alone does not provide the advanced applications, it just provides for the enabling connectivity. Businesses and industries need to take advantage of it to offer better services to their clients, to reduce their costs and become more efficient,” the industry source commented.
Deputy minister of research, innovation and digital policy Kyriacos Kokkinos told the Cyprus Mail that there are both business opportunities created by 5G as well as a whole new generation of services.
“There are two aspects. First, 5G will provide much faster connectivity, to download real-time video, for example, and connectivity that is truly crystal clear, with zero latency will spearhead innovation for new services,” he said. “I’m not just talking about smartphones for the individual, but for all sectors of business. For example, the healthcare sector will see much improved technology for remote diagnostics, telemedicine, or real time intervention by doctors for services. We’ll also see new business models, concepts currently in the process of creation, like next generation mobile applications.”
The second aspect, he said, will be a new generation of services made available because of the new capabilities of 5G.
“Think about mobility solutions, traffic management for cars, real-time connected security or diagnostics or traffic information. Many services of this type don’t work so well in 4G, but all that will be history once 5G is available.”
Operators are obliged to offer end-users internet access at speeds of at least 100Mbps, according to the rollout plan.
Mobile connectivity via 5G will be complemented by high-speed broadband.
“So far, our connectivity in Cyprus has been rather slow compared with other countries, and at a premium price. Our plan for broadband connectivity will address this,” Kokkinos said.
A key part of the ministry’s plan is fibre optics which will provide businesses with much lower operating costs, greater flexibility, faster and improved connectivity with the international community. This will provide an incentive for international businesses to set up locations in Cyprus.
After provisional winners are announced on December 17, the deputy ministry expects to make the awards by the end of January.
“Once the licences are awarded, each company has its own commercial plan in place for the rollout. I believe that we will see the first results by the end of 2021,” Kokkinos said.
The spectrum auction, conducted by the deputy ministry, involves the bands of 700MHz and 3.6GHz. Additional frequencies will be awarded at the 26GHz band, but this can be expected at a later stage, the sources said.
Operators must reach 70 per cent of clients by 2025, but according to operator plans, that result should be attained by 2023. All major highways and cities must be covered.
At first, the technology will be available to those who own a device supporting 5G technology. But the deputy ministry’s rollout plan is ambitious:
Cyprus has set the following strategic objectives for 2025:
- Gigabit connectivity for all main socio-economic drivers;
- All premises in organised communities (urban or rural) to have access to internet connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100Mbps, which can be readily upgradable to 1 Gbps;
- 100 per cent of the population living in organised communities (urban or rural), and all major terrestrial transport paths to have uninterrupted 5G coverage with a download speed of at least 100 Mbps;
- 70 per cent of households to have an internet connection (take-up) with a download speed of at least 100Mbps.
As when smartphones first appeared, a slew of apps, technology and related software is expected to appear, as it has in the US where 5G has been available since 2019.
So, just for us regular people, how fast is 5G? It’s fast enough to download a two-hour movie in less than 10 seconds. Certainly, something to look forward to.