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5G: Can it work in developing countries?

5G: Can it work in developing countries?

No doubt about it, a world with 5G would be wonderful -- super fast download and upload speeds, ultra reliable network connections, connected cars, smart homes and appliances, and basically the concept of the Internet of Things brought to life. Needless to say, everybody can not wait for the 5G era to begin.

Yup, consumers who are based in major mobile markets have plenty to be excited about as they are about to welcome 5G connectivity into their daily lives. But what about those countries that do not have the infrastructure yet, or other means to enjoy the wonders of the next generation of commercial wireless technology? 

With all the buzz about the arrival of 5G, it might be easy to forget that many countries in the world are still in the process of transitioning from 3G to 4G. A few nations do not even have Internet. According to the 2017 affordability report released by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), it turned out that only 19 countries across the globe can properly claim they can enjoy affordable access to the information superhighway. 

And for sure, even though the advent of 5G is basically just around the corner, it may take some time for phone makers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to actually release devices and gadgets that are compatible with 5G technology. And when these next generation handsets do hit the market, it is a good bet that they will not be that budget friendly.

Smartphones may have already become ubiquitous in the Western world, but in countries in Africa, feature phones continue to actually sell better than smartphones, with recent information provided by IDC showing that smartphones have actually lost some market share in Africa to feature phones.

But the coming of 5G should also mean brighter and better things for underserved countries, right? Theoretically it should, but in the real world, things are a bit complicated. It is often a combination of political will (government backing) and the drive of the wireless industry’s players. That can easily be seen by countries that are anxious to embrace 5G, such as the United States, South Korea, Japan, and China. But in other countries still trying to figure things out, the execution part of 5G may prove to be tricky. The good news is that advanced countries can offer a helping hand. The road ahead will almost certainly be challenging, but with the right first steps, the destination should get nearer.