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A New Zealand-based telecommunications company has opened the doors to its newly launched Innovation Studio, which the company hopes will help New Zealand businesses to test the latest technologies like 5G and the Internet of Things.

The company says the studio aims to demystify emerging technologies by placing them in real-world examples that businesses can relate to. They claim to know the New Zealanders and the business community understand the value of digitisation but often struggle to move from insight to action. That is where the Innovation Studio comes in – it is hands-on, practical, and collaborative and a place where businesses can learn how to become more productive, resilient, and sustainable through technology.

In partnership with a multinational tech company that provides cloud services, the Innovation Studio supports technologies across networks including 4G, 5G, Cat M1, LoRaWAN, and NB IoT.

The Innovation Studio comprises four interactive zones that cater to different business applications: The Asset Management Zone, the Emerging Tech Zone, the Smart Environments Zone, and the Utilities Zone.

The Asset Management Zone concentrates on how IoT asset tracking devices can be used across different verticals, such as retail, manufacturing, transport, healthcare, and the public sector. The zone features three organisations: Blackhawk and Digital Matter created end-to-end asset management; and Zebra, which maintains asset visibility through RFID tagging.

The Emerging Tech Zone showcases how 5G and IoT can help create solutions that may have been previously thought impossible. From intelligent lighting to augmented reality, these technologies can make businesses more autonomous. The zone features a VR experience for customers’ buying journeys.

The Smart Environments Zone is all about how IoT sensors can improve utilities and services operations in both urban and rural environments – for example, farmers can leverage real-time data from IoT sensors to reduce their environmental impact. The zone features Qrious and Auckland Transport, to create a pilot project for urban street maintenance.

The Utilities Zone provides an overview of end-to-end connectivity for utility businesses. Applications include water or power management, right down to cleaner waterways. The zone features a data buoy named ‘Murray’ that monitors water quality.

The tech developers view New Zealand as a hub of innovation, and they are excited to work and explore their shared vision of IoT and its role in driving the digital transformation in the country. They also hope to give local businesses a hands-on opportunity to explore the uses and benefits of IoT within a cloud environment, in a way that is easy, accessible, and efficient.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment believes that the Internet of Things is one of the most disruptive technologies to emerge in decades, and the possibilities for New Zealand are significant. It is vital to better understand and take advantage of the benefits that IoT promises across sectors as diverse as agriculture, utilities, manufacturing, logistics and smart city services. The Ministry has welcomed the opportunity to work with industry to support this research and the New Zealand IoT Alliance.

Moreover, joining up across the public sector and with industry is critical to seize the opportunities and address the challenges of disruptive technology and the changing digital world. The New Zealand IoT Alliance was formed to promote and advance IoT for the economic and social benefit of New Zealand. It brings together a community of digital technology innovators, investors, researchers, educators, social entrepreneurs, and government, all working towards a common goal. Emerging technologies also bring new challenges.

The mission is to ensure that the focus is on the right areas that enable New Zealand to become a leading digital nation – a nation with a thriving digital sector, where businesses, people and government are all using digital technology to drive innovation, improve productivity and enhance the quality of life for all New Zealanders.

The Eastern Economic Corridor (EECO), a special economic zone of three provinces in eastern Thailand, has partnered with state-owned National Telecommunications (NT) to launch the country’s first 5G pilot. Under the plan, the district of Ban Chang, Rayong, will become Thailand’s first progressive smart city, according to a statement.

The two companies said infrastructure around the Ban Chang Subdistrict Municipality is being improved to prepare the area for various communications systems, including frequency technologies that support the industrial development of 5G.

EECO and NT plan to work with other business operators via an infrastructure-sharing concept, which will reduce investment duplication between the public and private sectors and capitalize on government assets.

Recently, the two entities have teamed up to install a device to check their 5G Smart Pole system, which has been tested to capture over 10 real-time functions. Through 5G network signals, the Smart Poles can transfer and sync data with the government to provide real-time access to information and assistance.

A cloud network software provider was also selected to focus on network transformation and networking for communication service providers. Additionally, NT has collaborated with other major network players.

The serial entrepreneur who launched one of the network companies will serve as the chief executive of the company and will be spearheading this initiative. She also announced that she has stepped down from her role as a venture partner at Gobi Partners, but will continue as an advisor in the VC firm.

According to an earlier OpenGov Asia article, Thailand Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) and a Chinese multinational technology company announced the launch of the Thailand 5G Ecosystem Innovation Center (5G EIC) in Bangkok, the aim is to accelerate 5G innovation through ecosystem collaboration and boost the digital economy.

The centre will serve as a sandbox for the development of digital innovations for 5G applications and services across various industries in Thailand. These innovations will create new business opportunities for SMEs, start-ups and educational institutions, enabling Thailand to become a digital hub of the ASEAN region.

On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Digital Economy and Society delivered the keynote speech themed “Incubating 5G Ecosystem to Support the Digital Transformation of Thailand 4.0” at the opening ceremony.

He noted that Thailand is taking a crucial step toward moving into a new socio-economic era. It is among the first countries in ASEAN to be on track to adopt 5G technology, which not only offers innovative services and seamless experiences but is also reshaping all industries toward digitalization.

The depa President and CEO stated that the agency aims to drive Thailand towards the digital economy. Thailand 5G EIC will bring together an international alliance network to drive Thailand digital innovations in the long run.

Therefore, the collaboration between depa and global leading companies like the Chinese tech firm in establishing 5G EIC will greatly enrich the ecosystem.

At the ceremony, the Chinese tech giant revealed its THB475 million plan for 5G EIC, which will include its leading 5G equipment and solutions, and worldwide partners to Thailand. The tech company vowed to incubate over 100 local SMEs and start-ups annually to adopt 5G solutions for different vertical industries in three years.

The 5G EIC will be firstly launched in Thailand among ASEAN countries, it marks an important milestone for the 5G development in the country and even in the region, the CEO of the firm’s Thailand branch noted. He added that it is a great honour to be one of the initiators and the main partner of the visionary project.

The firm is fully committed to nurturing the 5G ecosystem and support the Thailand 4.0 initiative with the global leading experiences and resources.

An India-based start-up has developed an innovative wireless product that offers fibre-like bandwidth at a fraction of the cost of fibre to help telecommunications operators deliver reliable, low-cost Internet services to suburban and rural areas.

A press release explained that providing internet access to remote places in countries like India is difficult because laying fibre is expensive. There is a need for wireless backhaul products that are low cost, with a high data capacity and have a wide reach. The currently available wireless backhaul products either do not provide sufficient data speeds or the required range or are very expensive to deploy.

The company’s wireless product, GigaMesh, is based on patented millimetre wave wireless technology for Mesh Architecture. Unlike other wireless backhaul solutions, it forms multiple point-to-point (multi-P2P) links of multi-Gbps capacity. At the centre of this solution is a packet microwave radio system with an electronically steerable and flexible narrow beam architecture.

GigaMesh reduces network congestion and also makes existing infrastructure 5G-ready. A single GigaMesh device can provide up to 40 links with 2+ Gbps capacity each, communicating up to a range of 10 kilometres. The flexibility in range makes it suitable for decongesting dense urban networks and extending rural coverage. This approach to high-speed multi-P2P communication yields up to a six-time reduction in capital expenditure (CapEx) per link, as compared to the state-of-the-art P2P wireless solutions.

With an in-built ability to dynamically reconfigure 80+ Gbps capacity per tower remotely through software, GigaMesh brings in Software Defined Networks (SDN) capability to telecom backhaul, thereby reducing the operational costs significantly.

The deep-tech start-up was incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore and supported by the DST-ABI Woman Startup Programme under the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The company has been granted patents in India and the United States.

The technology has been converted to a scalable product, solving several telecom needs of the country. The product has been tested on the field and also integrated with partner products for its upcoming commercialisation.

The company is currently conducting a field trial at the Indian Institute of Science (the university campus). In this field trial, the company has already achieved data streaming at multi-Gbps speeds across the campus. The Indian Institute of Science aided the organisation in connecting with investors, providing business mentorship, and giving it space to conduct product field trials. The DST-ABI woman startup initiative also organised a weeklong trip, which provided the team with valuable inputs from the US VC ecosystem to prepare for the launch in the United States market.

The digital start-up ecosystem in India is witnessing huge growth. It is currently the third-largest tech start-up ecosystem in the world. Last year, more than 1,600 tech companies developed in the country, which takes the total number to 12,500. India’s technology industry contributes around 8% relative share to the national gross domestic product (GDP), with 52% relative share in services exports, and 50% share in total foreign direct investment (FDI), based on FDI inflows for the period April to September 2020. The information technology sector is expected to close FY21 with a revenue of US $194 billion.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently urged ministries, state agencies, and provinces to focus their resources on increasing the rate of online public services to levels 3 and 4 and integrate their public services on the National Public Service Portal. Level 4 is the highest level of online public services, allowing users to fill and submit forms and pay fees online.

The directive was released by the Government Office last week. The Prime Minister also asked government departments and localities to focus on implementing a number of key tasks to develop the e-government and digital transformation in the coming period.

In terms of institutions and strategies for the development of the e-government, the Ministry of Public Security will speed up the development of the Decree on personal data protection and submit it to the government for approval and issuance.

The Prime Minister instructed the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to record comments from government members to complete the draft decree on electronic identification and authentication. It would also complete and submit to the government the e-government development strategy towards the development of digital government for 2021-2025, with a vision to 2030.

Regarding the use of national databases, the Prime Minister instructed the Ministry of Public Security to effectively deploy the national database on population, to connect, share, and thoroughly exploit data to minimise paperwork. The Ministry will also put the national database on population into official use on a large scale by July this year. To accelerate the construction of the national land database, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will ensure that by July 2021, the connection and sharing of land data will be completed.

For the provision of online public services, ministries, state agencies, and localities must step-up the handling of administrative procedures in the electronic environment and concentrate resources on increasing the rate of provision of administrative services. According to the Prime Minister’s assessment, high-level online public services have been developed to better serve the people and businesses, with the rate of online public services at level 4 reaching about 31%.

Government departments are also required to effectively use the services provided on national databases and integrated platforms to proactively connect, share, and provide their data to other agencies in accordance with Decree 47 issued in 2020.

All ministries, state agencies, and localities have to complete the determination of information system security levels and propose information security plans. Regarding digital transformation, the Prime Minister instructed authorities to complete the construction and immediately implement strategies, programmes, plans, and schemes for digital transformation.

MIC was asked to strengthen management and the deployment of information technology and telecommunications to serve the development of the digital economy and digital society. Ministries, provinces, businesses, and schools need to continue developing online activities and applying digital technology in all aspects of life, the Prime Minister added.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister approved a pilot application programme for mobile money, which allows the use of mobile phone credit to pay for small-value goods and services. It aims to contribute to the development of non-cash payments, improving the access and use of financial services, especially in the rural, remote, and island areas of the country. The move is in an attempt to promote a digital economy and society.

The World Mobile Broadband and ICT 2021 seminar took place in Hanoi, earlier this week. It is a forum for telecommunications managers and experts to promote telecommunications services in Vietnam. The theme was “5G and broadband infrastructure development” as the country is interested in the application of 5G technology in agriculture, high-tech industry, and the 4th industrial revolution.

A report titled “Southeast Asia’s digital economy 2020” showed that Vietnam’s digital economy reached a total value of US$14 billion in 2020, US$2 billion higher than that of 2019. Of the total number of digital service users, new users in Vietnam accounted for 41%. This makes Vietnam the country with the highest rate of new Internet users in the region.

According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam is one of the three Asian countries with positive growth, with the economic scale reaching more than US$343 billion, compared to US$337.5 billion of Singapore and US$336.3 billion of Malaysia.

A press release has explained that the Vietnamese government has defined telecommunication infrastructure, including mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure, as one of the pillars of the digital economy. Within the past two to three years, the development of broadband infrastructure has paved the way for the development of all other economic sectors.

By the end of February 2021, the total number of fixed broadband subscribers in Vietnam exceeded 17.2 million and the total number of mobile broadband subscribers was nearly 69.5 million, according to statistics of the Telecommunications Department.

Assessing the development of Vietnam’s telecommunications market, Tran Duc Lai, the Chairman of the Radio and Electronics Association of Vietnam, noted that this year, local telecom network operators have deployed 5G and achieved very positive results. From 2021, Vietnam will test 5G services on a large scale and with Make in Vietnam devices.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Phan Tam, said that as society is entering the digital era, over the next 10 years, the world will witness great changes in human society. It is a transition from the real world to the virtual world, the transformation of all socio-economic activities into a digital environment, where data will become an important resource for each country and the country will promote the development of powerful IoT (internet of things).

He further added that telecommunications infrastructure is becoming the fundamental infrastructure for a digital economy, society, and government. The conception of digital infrastructure from the perspective of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) includes broadband telecommunications infrastructure and IoT, AI, big data, network security, digital identity, and electronic payment platforms. Mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure will contribute greatly to the development of the country.

In Vietnam, according to research by the Institute of Information and Communication Strategy, the contribution of 5G to GDP growth is forecast to reach 7.34% by 2025. Therefore, the Socio-Economic Development Strategy for 2021-2030 and the Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2021-2025 will focus on digital transformation, telecommunications, IT, and digital technologies, government, and skills.

Science, technology, innovation, and digital transformation are some of the strategic breakthroughs of the next 10 years of development to turn Vietnam into a high middle-income country by 2030 and an industrial country with high income in 2045. In that context, MIC is determined to go along with the world and be proactive in the commercialization of 5G in Vietnam.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology  (Kominfo) is keen to accelerate digital connectivity in the country. The provision and distribution of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure throughout Indonesia is the main focus of the ministry.

Apart from this, the development of human resources in the communication and informatics sector is another key focus of the Ministry of Communication and Information in creating digital talents who are expected to master the latest technology ecosystem.

Digital connectivity played an important role during the pandemic in breaking the chain of the spread of COVID-19. It also played a significant role in restoring the national economy. These were comments made by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Communication and Information, Mira Tayyiba, while speaking at the virtual Public Relations Communication Forum: Utilising Internet Access and 4G Networks in the 3T Region.

While the pandemic has accelerated the roll-out of connectivity plans, the Ministry of Communication and Information has also prepared the development of ICT infrastructure in all corners of the country as early 2014.

The Secretary-General revealed that the Ministry of Communication and Information built 1,682 4G Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in 1,682 villages and wards over the last year as part of their digital connectivity strategy.

This was done through the Telecommunication and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) throughout 2020. The internet access program, which previously targeted 9,400 locations in 2020, actually increased significantly to 11,817 locations.

The internet access program and 4G network in the 3T region have been utilised well. While the health and education sector benefited the most, other areas also thrived because of the excellent connectivity.

Secretary-General Mira explained, in the education sector, internet access and 4G networks were used for online learning training, provision of online English licenses, provision of licenses for learning Islam, implementing coding training activities for the community and ICT training for people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, in the health sector, training on the application of pregnant mother health records for midwives at health centres in the 3T area has been held online.

Apart from the education and health sector, other sectors also took advantage of the internet access program and 4G network in the 3T area, include the MSME, maritime and agricultural sectors, disaster, tourism and e-Government and non-government sectors.

Many other infrastructure developments have been set for initiation while several have been targeted for completion this year. In 2021 now, the Ministry of Communication and Information is planing deployment of large-scale ICT infrastructure development, including adding 4G BTS in 4,200 villages, internet access to 7,764 location points, increasing satellite capacity to 30Gbps and utilisation of Palapa Ring for the West Zone, Middle or East.

Secretary-General Mira wholeheartedly invited forum participants to work together to realise the nation’s digital transformation through strategic programmes and policies of the Ministry of Communication and Information.

“As I said earlier, Kominfo will continue to build infrastructure in Indonesia. Our passion and the big dream are to make Indonesia connected, Indonesia to be more digital, and Indonesia to be better. This will not work without cooperation between all elements of the nation, ” she stressed.

More locations in the Philippines’ Visayas and Mindanao regions will soon have free Internet connectivity and access as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) continues the roll-out of the Free Wi-Fi for All Programme in public places nationwide, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

DICT’s Visayas Cluster 2 targets to provide more Free Wi-Fi sites in 267 targeted barangays this 2021. Seventy (70) of these barangays are under Managed Information System – Geographical Isolated Disadvantageous Areas (MIS GIDA) and will be provided with Free Internet using very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Cluster 2 is set to launch more Free Wi-Fi sites in the coming months, in addition to the sites deployed in the following provinces and cities:

  • Bukidnon: 99 hotspots in 30 locations
  • Camiguin: 20 hotspots in 8 locations
  • Lanao del Norte: 58 hotspots in 38 locations
  • Misamis Occidental: 58 hotspots in 21 locations
  • Misamis Oriental: 135 hotspots in 52 locations
  • Iligan City: 8 hotspots in 2 locations
  • Cagayan de Oro City: 32 hotspots in 13 locations

As of March 10, 2021, there are a total of 8,170 Free Wi-Fi sites deployed across the country. Following the President’s directive to connect the government to other governments, businesses, and citizens, the agency has ramped up its efforts to install more Free Wi-Fi sites across the country, DICT said.

Considering the effects of the pandemic, the agency aims to further double and even triple their efforts to provide connectivity to all Filipinos to help them adapt and thrive in the new normal through various opportunities found online.

Furthermore, the DICT reported dramatic improvements in the rollout of its Free Wi-Fi for All Programme (FW4A) in 2020, saying that it achieved a 500% improvement from its previous average of 800 sites per year. For 2020 alone, the DICT said it was able to put up 4,305 live sites, which is more than double the combined 3,251 live sites deployed from 2016 to 2019.

The free Wi-Fi programme has been continually re-evaluated and redesigned to address major issues that include the procurement of some crucial network components and the difficulty of some suppliers to deliver their contractual obligations.

Moreover, to continue the initiative, the DICT earmarked PHP7.7 Billion on its proposed 2021 budget for the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi for All in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) Programme. DICT Secretary said that the budget will be utilised to reach the Department’s target to establish 23,100 live sites by the end of 2021.

The DICT plans to deploy the greatest number of sites in public education institutions. 10,300 sites will be deployed in public schools while 1,804 sites will be deployed in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions. The agency is aiming to provide every public school with free Internet connectivity and access to aid students and teachers adapt to the new normal in the education sector. This is part of the government’s commitment to the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and TESDA to ensure the education sector’s access to broadcast, connectivity, and digital security this upcoming school year while the country is still under a state of a public health emergency.

Part of the planned 23,100 sites, the DICT targets to install 5,644 sites in national and local government offices, 3,300 sites in government hospitals and rural health units, 1,505 sites in public parks, plazas, and other open areas, 368 sites in public libraries, and 179 sites in transport terminals.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order (EO) liberalising access to satellite services, which can open opportunities for telecommunication companies to provide better internet services and access nationwide.

EO 127 amends EO 467, which provides the policy guidelines and regulations concerning the operation and use of international satellite telco facilities and services in the country.

The government recognises that universal access to fast and reliable internet services is vital for the country to join the ranks of developed economies due to the internet’s transformative impact on e-government and the delivery of basic services, the elimination of red tape, freedom of information, disaster preparedness, public safety, readiness for climate change, education for all, and inclusive growth, the EO read.

Under the order, telcos, value-added service (VAS) providers, and internet service providers (ISPs) registered with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be allowed direct access to all satellite systems — whether fixed or mobile, international, or domestic — to build and operate broadband facilities to offer internet services. Broadcast service providers may also be allowed to directly access satellite systems subject to NTC rules, regulations, and authorisations.

EO 127 directs the NTC to update its regulations and expedite its administrative processes to enable VAS providers and ISPs to directly access, use, own, and operate facilities for internet access service using satellite technologies such as Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), and similar technologies, for all segments of the broadband network.

The new EO updates the definition of the term “direct access” to any of several measures permitting direct dealings between authorised entities and satellite system providers at specified levels as defined by NTC. Direct access is used to refer to measures permitting direct dealings between authorised entities and international satellite system providers.

EO 127 also directs the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in consultation with concerned agencies and sectors, to regularly review the responsiveness of the policy and submit recommendations to the Office of the President.

Also, under the new EO, the DICT, in coordination with the NTC, shall issue the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of the national policy for inclusive access to satellite services within 30 days from the issuance of the order.

According to the country’s Digital Strategy Transformation 2.0, the world is experiencing a digital revolution and the Philippines can play an enormous role in it. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is an important part of the country’s development. The country continues to build it up even further with the Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS).

The PDS lays out what needs to be done for the country to progress. It allows Filipinos to be more than just informed and updated on the latest trends in technology; it helps create citizens who are proactive and innovative – creating new trails instead of just following what has been done before. With the PDS, the Government intends to build a citizenry not just knowledgeable on ICT, but also adept in it – building on and improving existing technology and producing digital content that improves personal productivity and contributes to the national economy.

Moreover, according to a report from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), rapid adoption of digital technologies can help the Philippines overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, recover from the crisis, and achieve its vision of becoming a middle-class society free of poverty.

The use of digital technologies in the Philippines, however, is still below its potential, with the country’s digital adoption generally trailing behind many regional neighbours. The digital divide between those with and without the internet leads to unequal access to social services and life-changing economic opportunities. The Government continues to find ways how to bridge this digital divide.

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