As we embark on a new decade, we are entering a new era in which we will experience a brand-new technological infrastructure. In the past, those countries who were agile and quick to forecast the potential economic benefits of the new technological infrastructures were the ones who become the economic leaders of the time. Delaying the deployment of these critical infrastructural technologies leads a great opportunity costs for any nation, including Turkey.
The new infrastructure is 5G technologies and beyond. In light of all the hype around 5G, every country needs to create their own evidence-based understanding of impacts of 5G. This is the most critical national issue of our time. 5G needs not only telecommunication or mobile operator expertise, it requires involvement from strategically chosen verticals. The national 5G projects also require national researchers and academia to provide high quality insights on this new era of infrastructure.
The researchers need to help identify the cost of delays in 5G deployment. They also need to help forecast impacts of 5G in each vertical. There are series of fundamental questions that countries need to address. For instance, what is the 5G enabled output per vertical from 2020 to 2030? And what is it from 2020 to 2045? These questions beg for diligent and high quality research teams’ attention.
5G will be different from the previous generations of mobile technologies (2G, 3G and 4G) When introduced 5G will provide revolutionary new technologies to deliver increased business productivity, enhanced lifestyles and create new business opportunities. On the other hand, 6G will be dramatically different than all previous technologies. Investing in to 5G leadership will also provide opportunities to invest in 6G research and development.
5G brings a number of enhancements over 4G, including high speeds, low latencies, enhanced reliability, lower power consumption and greater terminal device densities. Perhaps most important, 5G offers new network management possibilities that could enable a single physical network to support a number of virtual networks with different performance characteristics.
This network slicing creates, for the first time, the possibility of tailoring mobile data services to the particular characteristics of specific users. For example, a dense IoT sensor network might prioritize low power consumption of terminals over connection speed; at the same time, a separate network slice on the same infrastructure could deliver high-speed mobile broadband.
5G will provide three key capabilities:
Enhanced Mobile Broadband – This simple but challenging 5G capability goal aims to provide a universal minimum data rate to enable high level quality of service coverage everywhere (including homes, office buildings, shopping malls and large venues) with increased capacity provided to considerably more 5G enabled devices.
Massive Internet of Things – 5G is designing its entire system to support very large-scale machine-to-machine and Internet of Things networks operating at low-power in licensed and unlicensed spectrum
Mission Critical Services – Mission Critical capabilities are seen as essential to support new market opportunities that will be supported by 5G’s highly reliable connections, ultra-low latency connectivity, with strong security and availability.
New paradigms always face with momentum challenges as there is almost always an institutional inertia that is content to keep things the way they are. Hence, the socio-economic paradigm shift takes time especially if this particular momentum is very slow. If inertia is ignorable and if the new common sense constructed quickly, the country moves ahead. The nature of this critical momentum is what moves some countries ahead and what keeps some countries fall behind.
China is a great example of a fast-critical momentum in the ICT revolution. Within 25 years, the Chinese leadership instilled the new common sense which has resulted in fantastic progress in key infrastructural technologies such as 5G, AI and even blockchain. China is a distinct case, as for the first time in history, we are seeing the largest country transforming itself in a relatively short period of time.
New technologies do not happen overnight. Good students of the techno economic paradigms have been observing distinct patterns in how these new technologies take root and what role financial capital plays in expanding these new technologies. There are certain properties that we observe in how the techno economic paradigm shifts take place.
Carlota Perez, whose research recognized by many leading investors in Silicon Valley, studied all of the major technological revolutions since the first industrial revolution in 1770s. She identified how these revolutions impacted the capital markets.
What she found was that there are two phases of every technological revolution, the installation phase when the technology comes into the market and the infrastructure is built (rails for the railroads, assembly lines for the cars, server and network infrastructure for the internet) and the deployment phase when the technology is broadly adopted by society (the creation of suburbs, shopping malls, and fast food in the auto era, and the adoption of iPhones, Facebook, and ridesharing in the internet/mobile era).
And the “turning point” between the two phases is almost always marked by a financial crash and recovery.
Countries have a preference. Those who want to position themselves as technological leaders will have to build their capabilities starting in the installation phase. Some government leaders may prefer to wait until the deployment phase to have a cheaper access to the infrastructure, which guarantees lost opportunities.
While making the decision for timing for the new technology infrastructure investment, the government leaders need to have a clear vision for 2025 and 2030. With 5G and other accompanying technologies, most of the manufacturing will become local. The edge of cheap labor will disappear by 2025 and 2030. This opens up a major threat to SMEs that are instrumental for the economy.
Furthermore, if Turkey decides to enter 5G in the deployment phase when the investment becomes cheaper, then the country will miss the installation for the next generation of telecommunications technologies, 6G.
Now, with a higher momentum and stronger action, Turkey can close the gap and transform its technology infrastructure to attain a stronger economic leadership in 5G, 6G and beyond.