The Coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges for healthcare professionals and facilities all over the world. The ongoing effort to respond to the rise in covid-19 cases and to assist in the phase of patient recovery, has left many hospitals overwhelmed. Throughout this phase, technological innovation has provided a glimmer of hope – by exploring news ways of ensuring provision of sustained support in medical services.
As such, Chinese tech giant Huawei will collaborate with Thailand National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Communication (NBTC) and Siriraj Hospital, to develop an unmanned vehicle for smart hospital innovation.
For the first time, this ASEAN nation will have a self-driving delivery vehicle that is supported by 5G technology offered by Huawei to bring a contactless delivery solution of medical supplies. This will raise the medical system standard and facilitate safe delivery of medical supplies in hospitals.
How is the technology beneficial? The car can operate in complex environments, therefore replacing labor in logistics services without the need for physical interaction. The autonomous car offers cost-effective, convenient and safe solutions while reducing workload for healthcare workers and improving patient safety.
Hence, this project represents the enhanced digitalization of Thailand’s medical services, as 5G will play an important role in the next generation of healthcare. The self-driving delivery vehicle integration will then be gradually adopted in the national health system for Smart Hospital transformation in the future.
“After the first test trial in Siriraj Hospital that is at the frontline in fighting coronavirus”, Huawei noted, “NBTC will evaluate the benefits and efficiency of the vehicle before maximizing results to leverage it in different uses and other hospitals.”
Abel Deng, CEO of Huawei Thailand, said, “As a global leading company in technology, Huawei is honored and delighted to continuously take part in assisting Thai medical staff. The pilot project of driverless vehicle for Siriraj Hospital will operate under Huawei’s 5G technology to help transport medical supplies within the hospital. This project exemplifies the accelerated digitalization of Thailand’s medical services as 5G will play a key role in the next generation of healthcare.”
The NTBC has been utilizing 5G technology with remote medical services by connecting with large local hospitals in piloting remote treatment of four diseases like eye diseases, skin diseases, blood pressure abnormalities and diabetes, according to reports. “The remote medical care has also expanded to local prisons, to give easier medical access to people and prisoners in remote areas.”
Thus, digital transformation and technological developments are needed to respond to the rapidly changing circumstances brought on by the pandemic.
Can 5G improve remote learning for all?
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life including education; from the subsequent closure of educational institutions around the world to the rapid adoption of online learning.
However, the concept of students studying and learning online started before the spread of the virus with an annual study from the Learning House, a U.S.-based Edtech company, noting that, “the proportion of students studying and learning fully online has risen from under half to fully two-thirds.”
A fast internet connection is one of the main criteria for a successful remote learning experience, therefore, 5G will likely facilitate a more seamless learning experience for students across the world.
Benefits of 5G
Remote learning based on new technologies has convinced 80 percent of teachers that this new way empowers their teaching process, according to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s fourth annual Educator Confidence Report.
So how can 5G rollout help Edtech?
Facilitating learning through new techniques
Allowing students to tap into their imaginative and explorative qualities is an essential step for better learning experiences.
Thus, 5G will broaden the scope of technologies used while teaching students new curricula and learning material; for example, it will allow institutions to open availability for virtual and augmented reality with its low latency and peak download speeds, estimated to be as high as 20 gigabits-per-second.
“Virtual and augmented reality headsets will allow students to place themselves anywhere in the world and even within a story. These digital experiences will enliven current curricula and allow students to energize their imaginative and explorative qualities, which should be central to educational experiences,” Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D. and a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation said.
Closing distances with easy accessibility
While 5G offers faster data speeds and enhanced connectivity for many, it may not be accessible to students living in remote or secluded areas. Such a limitation may deepen the digital divide.
However, wireless devices are easier to put in place than traditional wired or fiber-based internet, making it a more practical solution.
Remote learning with 5G is an opportunity to help schools close the homework gap by boosting mobile learning.
“The advent of 5G on mobile devices can help close that gap as students can begin to use faster, more reliable mobile-based connections to complete an assignment, rather than a terrestrial connection,” says Erin Mote, Co-Founder of the Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools and Education Technology expert.
Tech will help special needs students:
Our new educational normal will help students and children with special needs. 5G can help by enabling robots to be responsive with students, offering them good learning experiences, as well as being full-time assistants and supporting teachers by responding instantly to the needs of the student with learning exercises.
However, a big dilemma is presented here: children from high-income families are spending 30 percent more time on distance learning platforms than those from low-income families.
In parallel, 64 percent of secondary pupils in state schools from the wealthiest households are being offered online teaching from schools, compared with 47 percent from poorer families, according to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
NEC to develop UK 5G network, following trade agreement
Japanese IT giant NEC Corp. has agreed to support the UK’s development of fifth generation wireless networks across Britain, according to the British government.
The announcement comes as Japan and the United Kingdom have penned a post-Brexit bilateral free trade agreement, in which it was made public via tweet by the UK Department for International Trade.
“Japanese tech giant NEC to support roll out of 5G in the UK… The UK-Japan trade agreement signed today will bring two of the world’s most technologically advanced nations & democratic allies closer together,” the tweet said.
British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss met with NEC Chairman Nobuhiro Endo during her visit to Japan to sign the trade pact and discuss the establishment of the firm’s hub for 5G-related businesses, according to the U.K. government.
The deal follows British PM Boris Johnson’s decision to ban Huawei’s 5G equipment to expand networks by mobile providers across the UK.
5G mobile networks is expected to become the de-facto telecoms infrastructure that will set the stage for a wide array of services and products such as autonomous vehicles and the fourth industrial revolution.
According to the ban, mobile providers across the nation have a grace period until 2027 to dismantle and remove the Chinese tech giant’s equipment from their 5G networks, which will cost around $643 million, according to BT.
The 5G security concerns, which were ignited by the Trump administration’s trade spat with China, includes espionage, sabotage, and blackmail. The U.S. government considers Huawei as a security risk and has urged allies to shun its equipment over fears it could serve as a Trojan horse for Chinese intelligence services.
A report was drafted by UK MPs cited 5G security concerns related to Huawei’s collusion and close ties with China’s “Communist Party apparatus,” as calls were made to shorten the banning period till 2025.
The UK lawmakers’ findings published in their report included testimonies of several academics, cybersecurity experts, as well as a plethora of telecom executives.
A debate to vote the 2027 ban into law is expected in the coming months.
Britain’s premier initially resisted the ban, allowing Huawei to rollout a new high-speed network in Britain back in January, but changed his mind later in July.
Huawei has pushed back against the accusations made from several western nations; “This report lacks credibility, as it is built on opinion rather than fact,” Huawei responded in a statement.
In late September, Finland’s Nokia was awarded the contract to supply 5G networks across the entirety of the UK, making the deal the first and largest one to be awarded to the Finnish telecom maker.
O2 expands 5G rollout in 100 UK towns & cities
UK operator O2 announced their fifth-generation network expansion plan that will cover over 100 UK towns and cities, a year after they had initially kicked off their 5G rollout.
While partnering with Nordic vendors Ericsson and Nokia for their 5G infrastructure, O2, which is owned by Spanish telco Telefonica, will allow existing customers a refresh tariff to move onto 5G at their convenience.
“When we launched 5G last October, we said it was the first step on a journey. One year on and we have made some incredible progress, not just in terms of our roll-out but in bringing about new capabilities that will make real changes to people’s everyday lives,” Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at O2, said in a statement.
With continuous investment into new technologies, O2 has successfully built up approximately 10,000 LTE-M sites that are now live across the country.
“We firmly believe 5G has a role in helping to rebuild Britain, unlocking huge possibilities for our economy and society. We’re excited to keep pushing ahead with our rollout along with our partners Ericsson and Nokia, to keep supporting our customers, businesses and society,” McManus added.
The new network will cover 57 percent of premises and 58 percent of the population while allowing billions of devices to be connected to the internet to collect and share data.
5G and UK businesses
Over the last year, O2 has increased their focus on working alongside local businesses and consortia to test and build 5G use cases to enhance the way we work and live and help rebuild Britain.
Among those initiatives, the UK operator has partnered up with Northumbrian Water Group to enable experienced technicians to remotely guide on-the-ground teams through complex tasks by relaying real-time data and instructions using augmented reality (AR) technology, creating ‘Remote Experts’.
“No one could have predicted the way this year has turned out, and that almost overnight, customers would turn to their networks more than ever before to keep them connected to loved ones, colleagues and suppliers. Connectivity has never been more important, and we want our network to continue to raise the bar,” O2 COO highlighted.
In parallel, O2 launched the first commercial laboratory for 5G and satellite communications in the UK as part of Project Darwin, a four-year trial program supported by the European Space Agency and based in the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
The laboratory is now open to companies looking to test proof of concept for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) using both 5G and satellite communications.
The operator has also teamed up with the University of Glasgow to work with the NHS to deliver a pilot trial of a fully connected 5G powered clinic-on-wheels, in order to track COVID-19 at six care homes in Glasgow.
In addition, O2 is working with Deloitte, Wayra and Digital Catapult to build 5G accelerators in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Coventry.
These facilities will comprise of centrally located office and demonstration spaces with access to a private 5G network allowing businesses and public sector organizations to experiment with 5G features that aren’t yet commercially released.
Previously, tensions spiked between O2 and rivals Three UK after the former criticized Ofcom’s recent proposal to defragment the 5G ultrafast mobile broadband friendly 3.4-3.8GHz radio spectrum bands after next year’s auction.
The Office of Communications is the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications, and postal industries of the United Kingdom.
The operator complained that the decision favors Three UK (H3G) by allowing them to establish a “kingmaker” position from where they can obstruct rivals.
This was partially due to OfCom’s attempt to rebalance the market to make the differences in spectrum ownership between network operators less dramatic.
The amount and type of spectrum that an operator has is crucial for all sorts of reasons, not least because it can have an impact upon network coverage, rollout costs and particularly data performance (mobile broadband speed).
However, Three UK is in a different position when it comes to 5G because they already harbor 140MHz of related spectrum, including a single 100MHz contiguous block (rivals tend to have 50MHz or 40MHz blocks).
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