Tech Talk on 5G

The earth, the sea and air are the concern of every nation. And science, technology, and education can be the ally of every nation.”

— John F. Kennedy

South Africa, through the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) took a big step, when it finally auctioned off the 5G spectrum last month (March 2022). 5G stands for fifth generation cellular network.

Let’s quickly look at the advantages of 5G technology:

  • 5G is substantially faster than 4G, allowing speeds of up to 20 Gigabytes per second. For example, movies can be downloaded in seconds, versus the minutes that it takes to download movies on 4G.
  • It will be a key enabler of new technologies, such as robotics, robotic surgery, self-driving vehicles, and the Internet of Things (IOT), as it can transmit vast amounts of data very quickly.
  • It allows quicker access to data, as the speeds at which data is transmitted is much faster. Thus, we can rely more on critical data been transmitted timeously and with significantly reduced lag times. This is critical in very time-sensitive data transmission like security, self-driving vehicles, robotic surgery, etc.

Now, let’s look at some of the disadvantages:

  • The broadcasting distance of 5G is shorter, thus requiring more towers closer to each other and 5G transmissions are also prone to interference from high trees and buildings. This means that more towers will be required, which costs the network operator (and ultimately the consumer more). But this is not the only cost factor. Other factors may influence costs both positively and negatively.
  • Whilst faster speeds benefit users, it is also beneficial to hackers as they too now have increased capacity to hack into networks and devices. Imagine being hacked (is that hihacked?) into a self-driving vehicle.
  • Access to 5G, will not only require access to a 5G network, but you will also be required to have a 5G enabled mobile phone or another 5G enabled device. Ofcourse, these would cost more.

Our experience with most technologies is that we may not fully appreciate how our needs may change as these technologies mature. Newer technologies enable newer services or products that we may not even have thought about. According to Computer Weekly, 5G technology provides some exciting prospects for innovation in:

  • Agriculture by improving analytics and resource usage, to improve crop yields.
  • Remote education by improving content, transmitting content more reliably and improving learner experience.
  • Improved logistics (safer transport infrastructure, perhaps?), through IOT devices tracking goods wherever they go and in autonomous vehicles.
  • Advanced healthcare through analytics, patient monitoring, remote diagnostics, and robotic surgery.
  • More efficient and personalized retail experiences, for example allowing customers to visualise furniture in their own homes, contactless shopping.
  • Smarter government and utilities to track traffic flow and service use with multiple endpoint sensors, to have smarter grids to improve energy resilience (i.e. reduce loadshedding), etc.

At Lunar Capital, we are optimistic on these possibilities of 5G and we have invested in a number of companies (e.g. MTN, Vodacom, Qualcomm) that we think may benefit as these technologies roll out and mature.

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February 2022 Fund Fact Sheet

The Lunar BCI Worldwide Flexible Funds February 2022 Fund Fact Sheet can be found on our website, showing the latest performance of the fund, amongst other pertinent information.

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