The 5G brings outstanding network features such as low latency, network splitting, and high data speed needed to facilitate 21st-century data trends such as mining, operation control, and cloud computing and supporting emerging technologies like big data and autonomous driving. While massive 5G deployment started in Urban areas, Zulkernyne Ibne Tahasin highlighted how connecting rural America to 5G unlocks rural opportunities, bridges the digital divide, increases productivity, and promotes rural development and equality among the American people.
Technology executive Zulkernyne Ibne Tahasin currently serves as ICT Program Director for 5G Digital Services in Ericsson. With a decade of telecom industry and workforce development experience, Zulkernyne is pushing technology’s role in bringing a positive impact on every aspect of humankind.
Zulkernyne pointed out rural America’s current position in terms of high-speed network availability. Like 4G and predecessor network technologies, extensive network infrastructural disparities exist between urban and rural dwellers. According to the 2021 FCC Broadband Deployment Report, 98.8% of the metropolitan regions are connected to high-speed internet while the number is 82.7% for rural America. Out of 15 million U.S. residents who don’t have access to a high-speed network, roughly 80% live in rural areas of the United States. So, there is a strong need for improving network broadband strength in rural America.
To highlight the urgency of having an improved broadband/5G network, Zulkernyne shared some recent market study results. A study from Boston Consulting Group says 5G will create 4.5 million jobs and add $1.5 trillion to the GDP of the U.S where the most benefited sectors of 5G will be information services, manufacturing, and healthcare. Improvement in all these sectors will not only create jobs but also bring benefits to people living in rural America in various ways. The analysis also highlights that every six-months delay in 5G network deployment can be translated as missing out on $25bn of the possible 5G benefits from the period of 2020 through 2030. Another study from PSB research on 3,588 business analysts, leaders, and tech enthusiast found that 91% expect 5G to spur new product, 87% expect that there would be new industries, 82% wish the small business to gain more competitiveness, 89% expect that 5G would improve productivity. Hence, 5G is expected to be a significant force in rural industrialization and production development.
According to Zulkernyne Tahasin, 5G is poised to improve agriculture productivity to a great extent. 5G connectivity allows seamless connection of devices in farmland for better and optimized control. Low latency 5G technologies can help rural farmers to improve agriculture productivity and upscale their profits in multiple ways. For instance, farmland can exploit 5G latency to stream sensor data to farmers providing accurate and timely information. A recent 5G network economic analysis by FCC found that doubling broadband connectivity in rural households has led to a 3.6% increase in corn yields and a 2.4% decrease in operating expenses. 5G connectivity decouples purchasing patterns of the farmers as they can easily find cost-effective and efficient options to purchase farm inputs like fertilizer, machinery, etc. This directly contributes to the sales growth and profitability of the farms.
5G, Zulkernyne explained, can bring revolution in the rural education sector. In the past, education in rural America had been jeopardized heavily by poor connectivity. Currently, 15% of U.S. household with school-age doesn’t have access to the network, with the number becoming as high as 35% among the low-income rural earners. In rural areas, only 20% of adults of 25 years and above have at least received a bachelor’s degree, while the number is 34% in cities. This shows lower literacy levels among rural dwellers. Such factors encourage uneven developments that create regional imbalances and class disparities among the American people. With the 5G roll out in rural America, more people can access education and training facilities remotely, promoting education among rural residents who might not access education facilities in urban areas.
Rural America boasts great agricultural and natural resource potentials, which 5G technologies can exploit. The 5G technologies will bolster agriculture productivity, facilitate an efficient mechanism to extract and use natural resources, accelerate e-education, bolster telemedicine, create jobs, and bring benefits to green energy production, manufacturing, and outdoor recreation. All these will significantly improve rural welfare, reduce the digital divide, and increase the GDP in the long run. 5G is a real game-changer to rural American development and progress.