Handling her business from home
Handling her business from home

Why 5G is vital for our healthy future

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all Australians, and we are being tested in ways we've never had to face before.

For most, our day-to-day lives have been greatly affected and now we are confronting how the current circumstances will continue to impact our personal and professional lives as a 'new normal' evolves.

As many Australians have shifted and adapted to remote working and studying - online connectivity continues to be central to enabling many aspects of our everyday lives.

An immediate impact of this adaption is a substantial surge in data usage and a corresponding increase in demand on both fixed and mobile networks.

The Australian telecommunications industry recognises its critical role in helping Australians stay connected during a time of physical distancing and the industry will continue to take the necessary steps to meet the evolving demands of consumers.

While there may be some congestion at certain times, the industry has been encouraged by the robustness of our vital communication networks as they stand up to an unprecedented level of demand.

As so many Australians shift to working from home permanently, the need for a robust communications network has surged. Picture: Istock
As so many Australians shift to working from home permanently, the need for a robust communications network has surged. Picture: Istock

Interestingly, along with growth in data traffic, the volume of voice traffic has also increased strongly, indicating our ongoing desire to talk directly to our friends, family and colleagues.

With so much depending on our mobile networks and over 35 million mobile subscriptions for 24 million Australians - the mobile sector remains focused on meeting Australians' needs, as well as keeping pace, and in many ways leading, the introduction of the latest generation of mobile, 5G.

As a recent Australian parliamentary inquiry concluded, 5G is both safe and transformational with the capacity to support latest generation connectivity throughout our economy and society.

Most countries across the world are focused on 5G and are pursuing advancements of both 4G and 5G mobile technologies to help overcome the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to light and to further invest in mobile connectivity as a key part of adapting into how we live in a post pandemic world.

Locally, the rollout of 5G continues to gather momentum, our network operators are investing strongly in the mobile infrastructure needed to support 5G which in turn will enable opportunities for productivity and connectivity gains central to the advancement of Australia during this time of adaption and beyond. Key mobile infrastructure such as new radiofrequency spectrum bands and augmented mobile networks are essential to ensure we can meet the demands of consumers as well as a broad range of industries - from healthcare, transport/logistics to education and agriculture.

Public confidence in 5G is important. Picture: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
Public confidence in 5G is important. Picture: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

There will be very few sectors that won't demand the connectivity opportunities 5G will offer.

However, as the demand for data services escalates and the presence of 5G becomes more mainstream, it is important that the industry addresses any misinformation surrounding the roll out of 5G with health and safety continuing to be a topic of conversation.

As an industry we understand the importance of public confidence in the safety of 5G.

There have been many decades of science-based research proving that there are no adverse health outcomes from any generation of mobile technology. 5G, is no different. It is simply the next stage in the development of mobile technology, using radio waves in a more advanced way - not unlike previous radio wave evolutions from AM to FM radio or the shift from analog to digital TV.

We can be confident in the health and safety of all our mobile networks - 3G, 4G and 5G. We can also be confident in the faster speeds and increased capacity and billions of connections that will be supported by 5G which will have significant flow-on impacts that will help drive the economy and society forward.

During these challenging times, all generations of mobile technology have a major role to play in enabling Australians to stay as connected as possible as well as enabling businesses and industries to use connectivity to be more productive and efficient - a vital part of our response to recover from this health emergency and set us up for a successful future.

Chris Althaus is the CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association.



Originally published as Why 5G is vital for our healthy future