LIVE FROM 5G ASIA, SINGAPORE: Wing Lee, CEO of Malaysian mobile operator YTL Communications (pictured, third from left), insisted it is not cost effective to scale 5G nationwide and outlined plans to deploy non-standalone (NSA) in specific areas to support clear business cases.

“There is no strong business case for big rollouts. The economics aren’t there,” Lee stated during a panel on finding 5G apps.

He said YTL Communications aims to create value for verticals by rolling out NSA in different pockets, taking advantage of the lower latency. Since applications will be likely be industrial, for example in factories, falling back to 4G won’t be necessary.

The operator plans to build 5G coverage exclusively with small cells, speeding deployments and eliminating site acquisition issues.

Lee noted nationwide deployments in South Korea and China are only made possible by operators aligning behind national policy, with forward-looking spectrum planning and streamlined site processes.

YTL Communications in a challenger in the crowded Malaysian market, which has six operators.

Vertical focus
Carlson Chu, SVP of technology strategy and development at PCCW (pictured, far right), sees the highest potential for 5G in B2B sectors, but noted the actual applications differ from country to country.

While some are focused on use cases in agriculture and mining, he said Hong Kong is looking at smart city and factory automation applications.

StarHub CTO Chong Siew Loong (pictured, second from right), agreed, highlighting the potential for network slicing to create specific layers for verticals spanning public safety and drone deliveries. He explained Singapore is taking a number of industry initiatives, with two local operators recently selected to explore the use of 5G technology at the city’s port.

He also sees opportunity for 5G to replace some fixed connections where fibre is not in place in a more cost-effective way.