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Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge to get 5G

According to a recent report, The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge in China, touted to be the world’s longest cross-sea bridge, is expected to have 5G service in the future, the structure’s network operator said.

The 55-km bridge that opened last month connects the mainland province of Guangdong with China’s two special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macao.

The vice general manager of the bridge’s wireless security solutions provider was quoted to have said that the state-run Xinhua news agency. He noted that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge now has good coverage of 4G service.

Experts and workers have overcome the difficulties of a complex construction environment and the lack of an optical fibre to provide tailored 4G solutions for the bridge and prepare for the future upgrading of 5G service. Moreover, from the very beginning, the technological base needed for 5G has been considered in terms of network architecture, room for the 5G station and the instalment of fibre, the vice general manager noted.

Experts and workers extended the coverage area of the optical fibre to 20 km, double the conventional maximum onshore coverage of 10 km, to ensure full coverage of network signal along the bridge.

The bridge can be seen as a unique application of wireless technology, highlighting the high-quality products and advanced technology provided by China’s communication sector, it was added.

The bridge is now ready for the access of the Internet of Things, a major business to be achieved by 5G technology, the report said.

The bridge and its forecasted 5G capabilities will help manifest some of the goals laid out in Hong Kong’s Smart City initiatives.

In particular, Hong Kong aims to become a WiFi connected city and there is no reason for why the cross-sea bridge should not be included as part of this aim as well.

A report, published recently, noted that Hong Kong has the potential to take the lead in testing new 5G services.

The author of the article noted that while the fifth-generation of mobile service (5G) is expected to become popular only in the mid to late 2030s when killer applications are introduced, the new technology is undoubtedly the future for the coming 10 to 20 years, given the unlimited potential in applications — from smart-home security to remote patient monitoring to autonomous vehicles.

A research firm estimated that the global economic benefit created by 5G would be as much as HK$96.3 trillion (US$12.3 trillion) by 2035 with new employment opportunities estimated at as high as 22 million.

Thus, the question is: Can Hong Kong capture business opportunities? In terms of the consumer market, Hong Kong is very small and of little significance. However, as a testing ground for new services, our scale and agility may become a unique advantage. Therefore, the expert urged that the city should gear up to grasp the business opportunity.

It was noted that in late July, the Communications Authority announced that a total of 4,500 MHz of new spectrum in multiple frequency bands will be made available for the provision of 5G services. And part of the spectrum will be offered for free to help drive down the cost and the accompanying service fee to end users.

Furthermore, in the latest Policy Address, the Chief Executive has indicated that appropriate government premises would open up “for the installation of 5G base stations by mobile service operators.”

In addition, the government will install 5G infrastructure in form of 400 smart lampposts in four urban areas for trial 5G service. This is great news. As 5G needs many more transmission sites compared to 4G, the government’s advance planning would facilitate a timely 5G rollout.

This will enable the city to capture new market opportunities and will facilitate the introduction of more applications of smart city and IoT powered by 5G technology, and give operators a competitive advantage in the global race to 5G adoption.

To achieve the goal, one of the urgent tasks is to resolve the dispute between mobile operators and satellite companies on the right to use a crucial part of the wireless broadband spectrum.

Equally important is opening the aggregated data of mobile service collected by operators. Currently, the treasure trove of data is kept restricted to the operators for their provision of the service. Mobile data, seen as the “new petroleum” is becoming a critical part for maintaining our position in the global economy.

Singapore, Japan and the US have all made aggregated mobile data available to all. Hong Kong cannot afford to fall behind in this aspect.

In addition, the report noted that the government is emphasising two smart city elements, namely artificial intelligence and healthcare technologies. 5G service is essential for their successful implementation.

In view of all this, the expert urged the government to rank 5G installation as the highest priority in the city development.

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