Provision of 5G can greatly benefit Pakistan's healthcare, education sectors: experts

  • Say low latency will improve access to far-flung, remote areas
Published November 20, 2021 Updated November 21, 2021
Application of 5G technology

DUBAI: Pakistan stands to derive great value from the provision of fifth-generation (5G) of cellular networks, and would be able to especially benefit its healthcare and education sectors, said experts on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow 2021 that concluded recently.

Apart from benefitting telecom operators, the provision of 5G would enable users in remote and far-flung areas to access services at higher speeds, improving not only experience, but also availability to a larger number of people at the same time.

Pakistan's pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level is 44 to one, according to the World Bank that cited 2018 data by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In a high-income country, the ratio improves drastically to 14 to one, while in lower-middle income places, the number is still better than Pakistan's at 29 to one.

Experts say 5G services, with its low latency and widespread applications, can help overcome part of the challenge.

"You can deliver high quality and new types of content like virtual reality or omega reality," Nikos Papagiannopoulos, senior project manager ITT Data Services at Athens International Airport, told Business Recorder at the Dubai Airshow. "You can provide full classroom experience through 5G networks."

However, the official said, much like any new technology, countries will have to explore and experiment. "There are so many capabilities. If you decompose 5G into its elements and characteristics, and see what they do better, you can use those to build the applications required."

The official's remarks echo those of a report by global consulting firm McKinsey that said cases identified in just four commercial domains – mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, and retailers – could boost global GDP by $1.2 trillion to $2 trillion by 2030.

In its Discussion Paper published in February 2020 titled, 'Connected world: An evolution in connectivity beyond the 5G revolution', McKinsey said although gaps will remain, enabling more people to plug into global flows of information, communication, and services could unlock greater human potential and prosperity in many developing nations.

Healthcare application

The paper also said that connectivity-enabled innovations can make it possible to monitor patients remotely, use AI-powered tools for more accurate diagnoses, and automate many tasks so that caregivers can spend more time with patients.

"Having remote medical operations and surgeries in remote areas where doctors are scarcely found or surgeon specialities are missing, you can have robotics undertake those tasks and have very low latency and very good accuracy of having operations on patients," said Papagiannopoulos.

Similarly, Ramki Doraiswami, director at Technology Solution Delivery, said in terms of healthcare, where a lot of heavy images are captured and need to be transferred before an analytical report is produced, 5G could be a key enabler.

Doraiswami added that the technology could also help a country where a large number of students are paired with one teacher. "(In this case) when you require a lot of bandwidth, 5G could play a key role."

While the application usage of 5G in Pakistan is still far away, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom says the aim is to roll out the technology in 2023.

Nokia wants to help develop 5G ecosystem roadmap in Pakistan: officials

On its official website, the ministry said that it has constituted an advisory committee for 5G Planning in Pakistan (5G Pakistan Plan Committee) to define a roadmap and finalise recommendations for 5G Technology readiness in Pakistan.

"The Committee will develop strategic plan and roadmap for 5G technology in Pakistan with the formulation of working groups for 5G Spectrum Management, telecom infrastructure development, telecom regulations review including health and safety and 5G applications and use cases.

The committee comprises members from the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Frequency Allocation Board (FAB), PM Office SRIU (Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit), PM Taskforce on IT & Telecom, academia, Cellular Mobile Operators and Telecom vendors, it said.


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