5G as an enabler of smart cities: Frost & Sullivan

By Quah Mei Lee, Associate Director at Frost & Sullivan

When 5G comes to mind these days, we think of “is this REALLY it?” and “have we really progressed?”. If you have been in the industry for 10-20 years and have seen how un-fantastic 2G, 3G and 4G have been, you might think “what is this 5G?” and “do I even need to think about it?”.

The feedback so far has not been all positive but mainly due to lack of clarity and awareness on the latest developments. Some people are saying that 5G is not the problem solver, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is not quite what it is made out to be, and if it is just about faster speed, who will pay for it? Some pessimism has been noted from mobile operators and investors but this is also along with some optimism by analysts such as me and vendors.

Here is what I see. I see an enabler. And, I see the spirit of enablement taking shape across the region and around the world. We are truly seeing a new beginning with new ideas moving from trials to commercialization. However, I am a firm believer that “reality” is what we as part of industry make of it.

5G will impact most on transportation and logistics, manufacturing, healthcare, media, education and smart cities. Of all the key verticals highlighted, smart cities might be a good place to start if we are serious about making things happen with 5G. It might just be the place we find some of the more feasible ideas come out and where we find the initial volume to drive 5G at the right price points.

Smart city goals include creating long term economic sustainability, providing a high quality of life for citizens and ensuring safety, resource security and environmental sustainability. Smart city parameters currently define smart technology as covering technologies and services that enable easy access and widespread connectivity. Surely 5G fits within this definition, so why hasn’t it?

5G is here but only few companies have started to really plan their roadmaps with 5G in mind. It is time companies considered how 5G will impact their businesses and their services.

Within what smart city applications can be, we can immediately see how 5G networks can be an enabler of smart city infrastructure. Open a smart city plan and the common bingo words such as artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality, internet of things and connected cars appear. The question we might ask at this juncture is, “where does it really fit and how can it make a difference”.

I happened to be in Seoul when 5G was launched in April 2019 and I will tell you this. In my 20 years in this industry, I have never seen such a fight over a technology commercialization launch but what it represented meant a whole lot more. What is the 20 trillion won in South Korea and the US$20 billion dollar in the US allocation for research and development for if no one saw the potential in 5G.

What is missing today are the applications optimized for 5G. Few people will pay US$50-70 per month to use 4G applications on 5G. The good news is that mobile operators know they need more applications and we are going to see more applications come out from South Korea. Not all applications will be replicable and relevant outside of South Korea but nevertheless, they represent  positive effort towards monetization of 5G.

After 20 years of hibernation, it seems like our mummy of the telecommunications industry has finally woken up as 5G. We are not sure of its wrath on the world but we think it has got potential.

In most countries, even in Malaysia, prioritization of technology infrastructure is a key aspect of smart cities. Yet for us here in Malaysia, as an example of countries around the world, 5G is still not deeply embedded into smart city development plans. It is common knowledge that 80% of mobile operator traffic originates indoors so it is not hard to see that 5G will be driven by indoor applications.

In fact, Frost & Sullivan conducted as survey at the recent Asia Pacific Spectrum Management 2019 held in Kuala Lumpur in March 2019. We found that 93% of Malaysian respondents said that the availability of digital indoor systems (DIS) is important and 55% said it was needed now. The global numbers were not too different.

This is positive for the industry yet I know from hands on experience that the indoors isn’t the easiest place to transform, especially in Malaysia. The upside to this is the fact that regionally sites are no longer solely owned by mobile operators but increasingly owned by neutral hosts and infrastructure providers. Things are slowly changing and for the better.

I started talking about 5G two years ago. What people liked about it was the potential of 5G to contribute towards growth of GDP and the potential to create the opportunities for new use cases and business models not just for mobile operators but also for the wider industry ecosystem. I also suggested then that mobile operators find initial volume within government projects to get 5G to the right prices for the rest of industry.
To frame 5G around smart cities, we see how open data can drive smart city initiatives. What better technology mine a large amount of data – faster – more sensibly – than with 5G. The only caveat is that the local government in the country in question needs to have already adopted open data.

Based on today’s progress, this is still not universally the case globally.
In March 2019, Malaysia took a step forward with a public-private collaboration to make use of open data to drive smart city initiatives. MAMPU is now working closely with industry technology players such as NetApp. NetApp will provide the government with the much needed data storage and data management architecture to enable the optimization of open data in a safe environment.

Also with 5G, what is reinforced is the need for specific skill set capabilities and the role of integrators to bring together end to end solutions. The formation of industry partnerships is critical for the development of 5G. Here again we can draw parallels with the smart city world.

To be clear, if we were already creating the solutions for smart cities within government,
manufacturing, transportation, logistics, retail, media, healthcare and agriculture, why are we not leveraging more on 5G, especially when it has the characteristics that can drive smart city applications.

The idea is not to scrap the fiber that is in place, even 5G depends on fiber. It might be a better approach to look at the smart city applications that are out there and to see how 5G can help to transform them. Don’t start from scratch but enhance existing plans and potentially achieve better results for every dollar invested over the smart city journey.

In conclusion, it is not about the faster speeds and wider bandwidth that come with 5G. It is about how faster speeds and wider bandwidths can impact businesses and more importantly the consumers. 5G can play a key role as an enabler in local countries progress towards smart nations. It can even potentially power smart cities if set our minds to it. From buildings managed by smartphones to self-sustainable elders, the future is what we as part of industry make of it.

OPPO introduces supercharged Find X phone to Australia

OPPO has upgraded its flagship Find X to include SuperVOOC flash charging – billed by the handset maker as “the world’s fastest charging technology.”

In addition, OPPO will  be launching the OPPO Find X Automobili Lamborghini Limited Edition. It said SuperVOOC Flash Charge uses a suite of patented technologies and a bi-cell design (2 x 1700mAh batteries) equivalent to the power from a 3400 mAh battery to fully charge the device in just 35 minutes. The device will retail for $1,299.

“We’re really excited to bring SuperVOOC to Australian shores in the latest version of the Find X. SuperVOOC is the fastest charging technology on the market today and ensures Aussies can stay fully charged throughout the day,” said OPPO MD Michael Tran. 

OPPO has also upgraded the performance of the Find X in its latest edition, by upping the ROM to 256GB. “Coupled with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 and 8GB RAM, the Find X Super Flash edition offers more power, performance and speed than ever before,” it said

The Find X Super Flash edition includes all the other features, technology and design from the Find X including:

  • Stealth 3D Cameras – 25MP front camera and 16MP+20MP dual rear cameras that are hidden within the body of the phone

  • 3D Facial Recognition – builds a 3D model of a user’s face for better selfies and a higher level of security than fingerprint identification

  • ColorOS5.1 AI System based on Android 8.1 – as the third generation of Qualcomm Mobile AI Platform, Snapdragon 845 mobile platform is engineered with every forward-looking feature, including camera, gaming, an intelligent personal assistant and advanced vault-like security.

In addition, OPPO has also announced it will be bringing the OPPO Find X Automobili Lamborghini Limited Edition to Australia. The OPPO Find X Automobili Laghini Limited Edition is designed to have the same look as the design widely used in Lamborghini sports cars, and comes with a customised UI, SuperVOOC and 512GB of ROM.

OPPO is offering customers the chance to win one through a social competition. Further details can be found here. 

The winner will will have their device delivered by Lamborghini and given the chance to go for a 35 minute hot lap (presumably while their Find X full charges).


The OPPO Find X with SuperVOOC Flash Charging is available now exclusively through JB Hi-Fi and will retail for $1,299.


The OPPO Find X Automobili Lamborghini Limited Edition will be available through JB Hi-Fi and Mobileciti for $1,998 next week.



Deutsche Telekom fits out Düsseldorf Airport with NB-IoT sensor network

By David Morelo, Europe Correspondent

Deutsche Telekom has teamed with BS2 Sicherheitssysteme, a German manufacturer of smart sensors for concrete structures, to equip Düsseldorf Airport, with NB-IoT sensors to monitor the condition of bridges, tunnels, buildings, and other infrastructure objects made of concrete.

“Düsseldorf Airport is one of the pioneers in Germany that is using IoT technology for its road constructions at the airport,” says Ingo Hofacker, who is responsible for IoT business at Deutsche Telekom. The goal is to help the airport, which carries more than 24 million passengers annually, to move away from traditional material samples which are costly to take and cause damage to the tested structure.

Düsseldorf Airport is starting with a bridge that provides the sole access route to the airport’s tank farm, making it critical for smooth flight operations. Every day, over 120 fuel tanker trucks, each carrying 30,000 liters of kerosene, travel across the bridge, causing a significant amount of material fatigue.

“We have a bottleneck here at the central tank farm. The digital solution protects us against unforeseeable damage to the access road and the disruptions to tank usage that it would entail,” says Michael Hohenecker, Head of Data Management and Building Inspection at Real Estate Management, Düsseldorf Airport.

Fifty NB-IoT sensors embedded in the surface of the bridge and its copings will measure temperature, humidity, and corrosion. The gathered data will be transmitted in real-time over Deutsche Telekom’s network for subsequent analysis. According to Deutsche Telekom and BS2 Sicherheitssysteme, the sensors have a lifetime of 70 years, and they can be installed in both new constructions and existing concrete structures.

Apart from the bridge, similar NB-IoT sensors from BS2 Sicherheitssysteme are also being deployed is the Köln-Ost highway junction, where Germany’s Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) is conducting its own tests to evaluate the usefulness and limitations of the technology.


Brisbane-based software-as-a-service and compliance tech specialist Concept Safety Systems has acquired Locatrix Communications, a primary Australian developer of mobile and location-based software.

CSS noted that the acquisition was approved by the companies’ respective boards on 1st March, with the integration of the two businesses now having been completed. It added that a key factor in its decision to purchase Locatrix Communications was that firm’s track record in developing and integrating smart city and Internet-of-Things services for Telstra as well as several urban councils across Australia.

CSS itself specializes in providing a range of emergency management, safety and compliance technology services.  “We’re delighted to welcome the Locatrix team to CSS,” said CSS executive chairman and CEO John Hummelstad.  “We have known the Locatrix team for over 10 years, and we were greatly impressed with their capabilities in mobile and geospatial applications development while partnering with them on a project basis.

“As a strategic acquisition, this team dramatically broadens our ability to deliver scalable, enhanced mobility and location-specific software solutions to our customers,” sais Hummelstad.

“CSS is focused on helping our customers, and emergency services partners, create overall safer environments – whether it’s in a commercial building, a campus, or a city precinct,” Hummelstad continued. “The acquisition of Locatrix also means that CSS adds Telstra to an already impressive roster of corporate customers, including Qantas, Air Services Australia, and McDonalds Restaurants.

He said Locatrix had been a provider of location-based SaaS offerings to Telstra since 2007. “CSS will continue to both support this existing business and nurture a further strategic relationship with Telstra for the delivery of extended capabilities to Australia’s Emergency Services agencies,” Hummelstad said.


Another strong showing for New Zealand in IDC’s Asia Pacific Smart Cities Awards, a first of its kind network trial for Chorus and a Quantum acceleration for Spark – it’s the week that was in New Zealand’s telco scene.

‘First of its kind’ open access network trial for Chorus

Network provider Chorus has teamed up with Nokia for an open access network infrastructure trial which Nokia said is a ‘first of its kind solution’.

Chorus will trial Nokia’s wavelength services solution for on-demand assurance and fulfilment of Layer 1 services as part of Chorus’ one open access network infrastructure vision designed to accelerate the monetisation of infrastructure by offering fibre access, transport services, premium colocation and network hubs. Chorus said the solution, which is compliant with emerging MEF standards for L1 subscriber services, will enable it to offer new standards-based optical services to service providers.

“With its support for compact demarcation devices and end-customer portal access to fully instrumented service assurance dashboards and reports, we believe that solutions like this will further advance our service offer and put more network control in the hands of our service providers,” Chorus CTO Ewen Powell said.

Three Kiwi projects in running for APAC Smart Cities awards

Three Kiwi projects are finalists in the 2018 IDC Asia Pacific Smart Cities awards, continuing New Zealand’s strong form in the awards.

Auckland City Council has been shortlisted as finalist in two categories. Its Safeswim project, which provides real-time data on wastewater and stormwater network performance, with predictive models, to provide water quality forecasts for swimming sites around Auckland, is in the running for an award in the Smart Water category. The system has significantly improved water safety alerts.

The council’s Upsouth youth empowerment and civic engagement digital platform is also a finalist in the Digital Equity and Accessibility category. Upsouth is designed to improve participation and engagement to increase diversity in decision making. Users earn micropayment for their ideas and contributions from the sponsorship money pool supporting each call/question.

Also in the running for the awards is Datacom’s Antenno, which is a finalist in the Civic Engagement category. Antenno is a mobile app solution designed to improve common action about council services, public safety, public infrastructure and other community information. The app, which is being used by South Waikato District Council and Marlborough District Council, enables local government departments to send alerts and notifications and also receive feedback and input from the community.

Last year New Zealand claimed four Smart City Asia Pacific Awards, with Qrious, NEC, Unison and Waikato District Health all winning.

Jefferson King, IDC New Zealand Associate Market Analyst, said of this year’s showing: “For a country the size of New Zealand to have three projects that stand out on the regional stage is a fantastic achievement.

“New Zealand has consistently punched above its weight in the four years that these awards have been running.”

Management revamp as senior execs depart Chorus

Chorus is revamping its executive team as two senior managers exit the company.

Nick Woodward, product sales and marketing general manager, is leaving after 10 years. Woodward has been with Chorus since it started as a business unit in the then Telecom (now Spark) business in 2008.

Ed Hyde, previously CEO of Spark Ventures, has been appointed as chief customer officer. Hyde said as Chorus nears the conclusion of the bulk of its fibre build, and with a rapidly and dynamically changing environment, customer focus and innovation will be “essential” for the company to achieve its objectives.

Meanwhile, network and file management general manager Ed Beattie will leave in August, with current chief financial officer Andrew Carroll moving into the role. A global search has begun for a replacement CFO, with Carroll remaining as CFO, while also taking on the new role, until a new CFO is found.

Quantum acceleration for Spark

Spark NZ is accelerating its Quantum transformation and performance improvement programme with earnings expected to fall as restructuring costs are brought forward into the FY18 results. The telco is forecasting earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $971 million and $991 million for the year to June 30 – down from the $996 million to $1.02 billion previously forecast.

Simon Moutter, Spark managing director, said the three frontrunner Agile ‘tribes’ set up by Spark in February are already demonstrating ‘impressive’ improvements in terms of deeply embedded customer centricity, dramatically increased speed to market and empowered and engaged employees with greater productivity.

Changes originally expected to kick in in FY19 all now be implemented this FY.

Spark said additional implementation costs of between $25 million and $30 million are now expected to be brought forward into reported FY18 earnings.


While the concept of smart cities is still in its infancy, Robert Linsdell, ANZ MD of critical infrastructure firm Vertiv, has warned that it will eventually gain significant traction, and businesses and government need to be prepared for it.

Linsdell said the extent of smart cities initiatives to date only revolved around data collection and storage, which means the infrastructure required is as yet quite minimal.

“At the moment what’s tending to happen is… some cities are doing it better than others. But it’s all relatively high level, like water sensing, people movement, smart bins,” he said.

However, Lindsell expects this will soon shift. He predicts the infrastructure will become a much more major component when the data that is currently being collected will be used to make decisions, which will require low-latency high bandwidth plus additional storage and compute.

“You have to think even that even though we don’t know what the end game is, you need to think of some degree of resilient and future proofing of your IT infrastructure needs,” he said.

For example, Vertiv recently worked with Queensland’s Redland City Council to help build a modular datacentre featuring a 10-rack capacity, even though currently it only needs six racks.

“There’s plenty of hype about smart cities and IoT but it’s important to consider what infrastructure you need to pull that off,” Linsdell said. “Redland City understands this, and it is taking the steps now to make sure it can do the exciting part in the right way later.”


Equinix APAC president Samuel Lee

Asia-Pacific is leading the world’s smart city evolution, with a number of cities across the region rolling out smart city initiatives and investing to build a better place for their people to live and work. Continue reading “A GUIDED TOUR OF HOW ‘SMART’ IS BEING INJECTED INTO CITIES: EQUINIX”