By Megat Mohd. Zukarlai Meor Zailan, Director of Group Commercial Management of edotco Group
The Covid-19 pandemic has called for a hard reset on life as we know it, re-calibrating work, play and day-to-day activities. As the world observed strict social distancing, connectivity became a lifeline to the world outside from the safety and security of our homes.
In the weeks following the World Health Organization deeming the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, the world swiftly retreated indoors; work, education and leisure now largely take place online.
During that period, as the movement control order was enforced, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) observed a surge in demand for internet bandwidth. This demand stemmed from the increased use of video conferencing tools for work and e-learning, streaming services, as well as eCommerce, as people stayed home and turned to the internet for work and leisure activities.
With intermittent social distancing projected to last into 2022, we will see the shift away from physical businesses and towards online streaming to replace cinemas, concerts and sports, remote working to replace office spaces, and continued growth in the e-commerce and telehealth sectors to replace traditional storefronts, clinics and hospitals.
As nations adapt to a low-touch economy and countries across the region start opening for business, we enter the ‘new normal’ where adaptive habits developed during the isolation period will remain a part of our lives.
While the world becomes more connected every day – an ongoing process that has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, plenty has been said about the new normal that will emerge post-pandemic.
Amid this change, this transition to the new normal needs to be supported by robust and dependable connectivity. The telecommunications ecosystem will play a crucial role in spearheading this shift through greater connectivity. Industry players, including infrastructure providers, such as edotco Group, mobile network operators, and regulators must join forces to enable this shift while meeting capacity demands.
This strengthened industry collaboration may take the form of ensuring infrastructure readiness by fiberising towers, increasing capacity and efficiencies through shared infrastructure, and employing solutions such as small cells to increase capacity in densely populated urban settings.
A multipronged approach will allow for network densification in urban and densely populated areas, where space is limited and data demands are high, while also enabling the outskirts to be brought onto the network, thus narrowing the digital divide.
By establishing a dense 3G and 4G layer, and redoubling efforts to narrow the digital gap to bring connectivity and its socio-economic benefits to the outskirts, we will power the transition into the new normal – meeting the changing needs of the economy as well as society at large. Advanced connectivity is what every nation needs right now, to meet increased capacity demands of the new normal. It will also allow economies across the region to thrive as they reopen for business.
The rapid digitisation resulting from the pandemic will also fuel the adoption of next generation networks. Once the dust has settled, the industry can refocus its efforts towards rolling out 5G networks, which will play a crucial role in powering smart cities, seamless transportation networks, and the integration of technology in a digitised ecosystem.
It is important to note that for a robust and successful recovery, we must commit fully to our digital ambitions. Despite the ongoing uncertainties, nations like Malaysia are well-positioned to achieve their digital ambitions through a shared 5G agenda. Enabling connectivity while meeting the capacity demands of our changing society is the first step of post-Covid recovery, which will evolve into rolling out 5G and leading the charge as the world embraces the new normal.