Brunei can only expect 5G network and technology to be introduced by 2021 or 2022, a representative from networking and telecommunications company Ericsson said.

Within the ASEAN region, only Singapore is slated to have 5G up and running in the near future. Globally, China, Japan and South Korea are leading the pack in 5G adoption.

“We expect handsets [for 5G network] to be available globally by 2019. So, I would say 5G will be implemented in two phases,” said Nitin Bansal, Ericsson’s head of network solutions for Southeast Asia, Oceania and India.

“Phase one would be China, US, parts of Europe, Japan… Then phase two probably by 2021 to 2022 — this is when it would be marked deployable and you get the economies of scale for the right costs.”

Bansal said the timeline for 5G to come to Brunei would be in phase 2 — between 2021 and 2022 — but added that it may still be too early as there is a need for collaborations with the government and relevant stakeholders in terms of understanding 5G applications.

5G not only has the ability to connect multiple devices at once, it can move more data at greater speed and will be more responsive.

“By using 5G , we can connect more devices and run IoT applications [Internet of things] efficiently because 4G itself will not be able to cope,” he said.

With driverless cars and robotic surgeries  already in the horizon, the demand for 5G is escalating. And even though Brunei has the highest mobile penetration rate in the region, IoT applications have yet to gain momentum.

For the sultanate, IoT will need to come first before 5G, said Ericsson’s Director for Brunei Gabriel Hii.

He disclosed that his team is already in talks with the Department of Electrical Services to introduce a smart metering system for both electricity and water.

What is the ‘Internet of Things’? 

IoT is the interconnection of everyday devices via the internet

He pointed out a few shortcomings in the existing pre-paid electricity meter, including the inability to notify home or building owners via handphone and email when credit is running low. By adopting a smart meter, both home owners and electrical service provider can access analytics. This will allow them check on current usage, past usage and even track which times of the day usage peaks.

Ericsson marked its 10 year anniversary in Brunei today with a showcase for stakeholders, highlighting the latest innovations and technologies, as well as how the company is evolving its business portfolio to provide smart solutions to real-world problems.

“As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, I would like to emphasise our commitment to Brunei and its people through our technology innovations – particularly in 5G, IoT and cloud,” said Martin Wiktorin, president and country manager of Ericsson Singapore and Brunei.

He added: “By constantly transforming our business portfolio and providing new, innovative solutions, we are enabling the communications industry and other sectors to do better business, increase efficiency, improve user experience and capture new opportunities.