Covid-19: Experts demystify 5G's role

Friday May 8 2020

5G

In this file photo taken on November 6, 2019, people visit the stand of Chinese telecom giant Huawei during the Web Summit in Lisbon. PHOTO | PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA | AFP 

By Daily Nation

Tech experts have restated the critical role the 5G network is playing in the battle against the coronavirus, saying it facilitates fast and flexible connectivity to secure remote diagnostics and treatment.

Huawei’s President of Carrier BG Marketing and Solution Sales, Peng Song, reiterated the importance of technology in fighting Covid-19 during a 5G online summit in Shenzen, China, last week.

He called on information and technology companies to stick together in rolling out the fifth-generation (5G) network and combating Covid-19.

“5G provides us with a more flexible option and a faster connection to get you online. (It) allows us to make full use of experts and medical resources in different regions," he said.

"5G+ and AI enable the application of drones and robots to reduce the workload of doctors and nurses."

SIGNIFICANT VALUE

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According to Huawei, which noted that Covid-19 has affected everyone and is still spreading, a digital response to the pandemic can take multiple forms and bring significant value.

The summit noted that tech companies are taking measures to confront the pandemic and that 5G is vital for both social health and economic performance.

Huawei said technology has been a critical tool in fighting Covid-19 in many parts of the world.

In Africa, for instance, the Global Epidemic Prevention Platform (GEPP) released by Korea Telecom at the end of 2019 is helping to track people who came into contact with a carrier of the coronavirus.

The technology has already been rolled out in Kenya and Ghana.

COLLABORATION

At the event, Huawei released a white paper, Technology against Pandemic: Insights and Practice on Telecom Networks.

The paper explains the role telecommunications networks have played in the fight against the pandemic and in helping people to move vital activities online, such as education, shopping and remote working.

It also explains global operators' best practices for overcoming the pandemic using 5G, AI, fibre 10G PON, and other advanced technologies.

The paper further discusses the need to build and upgrade public health emergency response mechanisms.

Governments can then take advantage of the development to make informed decisions in a timely manner and allocate resources more effectively.

“In this regard, 5G can also promote collaboration by enabling connectivity, maintaining effective communication among hospitals and enabling 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,” reads a statement from Huawei.

MAJOR CHANGES

It is safe to assume that with 5G and the confluence of other emerging technologies – such as the Internet of Things, big data, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning - the healthcare industry will change drastically as these technologies are used to augment the human capacity and effectiveness.

In the near future, 5G technology, when available to more people, will enable novel healthcare applications as seen with Covid-19, while facilitating ad hoc orchestration of healthcare services by integrating patients, medical practitioners and social workers through its enhanced connectivity capabilities.

“This year, global digital transformation will accelerate, meaning both opportunities and challenges for telecom operators and industries," Mr Peng said.

"To address these opportunities and challenges, operators must aim for more resilient, automated and intelligent target networks, and their annual network plans and activities should be geared towards achieving these goals."

DRONES, ROBOTS

Seeing as rolling out of the 5G comes amid a global health pandemic, Mr Peng said the new technology should help deliver medical resources quickly and efficiently.

He said 5G provides the world with a more flexible option and a faster connection to get online while allowing users to make full use of experts and medical resources in different regions.

5G+ and AI enable the use of drones and robots to reduce doctors and nurses' workload.

In China, ambulances fitted with 5G-enabled communication technology have enabled nurses to tend to Covid-19 patients.

Through the process of mixed reality, the clinician is given a real-time view of the patient's state in the ambulance, allowing the paramedic to be guided if critical intervention is required.

Under the Lifelines Project, critically ill patients who are unable to receive visitors are equipped with 4G-enabled tablets to connect and communicate with their families.

Going forward, much more of this can be done using the 5G network.

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