By Kathy Gibson – Telecommunications has contributed to the world’s efforts in healthcare and continues to be a major player in the fight against Covid-19, with 5G promising faster and better communication.

Shaun Collins, CEO of CCS Insight, points out that the UK has deemed the national communication infrastructure as critical, with several projects underway where fast communications is speeding admission and treatment of patients.

“Doctors will tell you that seconds save lives in medical emergencies,” Collins says.

The ongoing pandemic will require better and faster communications and 5G offers the technology that will allow this.

“A global crisis accelerates history and condenses developments in healthcare behaviours within organisations and society,” Collins points out.

“Networks are central to the solutions being deployed to address the health emergency, and 5G will offer more opportunities to meets these challenges. 5G could give us the ‘fibre in the air’ that we’ve been looking forward to for some time.”

Meanwhile, a dispersed workforce will require enterprise grade systems to their homes.

“This means 5G is more important than ever, to allow us to be more effective in our management of the solutions,” Collins says.

“Now is not the time to roll back on 5G, but to double-down on 5G deployments. It will be critical for the management of new crises.”

The pandemic has hastened the rollout of 5G in China, and 70-million customers will be connected by the end of this year, says Dr Su Yu, Deputy Dean of the CMCC R&D Institute at China Mobile.

In fact, 5G was set up simultaneously with the new filed hospitals as they went up to support them in terms of communications, he says – 20 sites were completed in Hubei Province in 48 hours.

Changing dynamics in the pandemic cause traffic surges and new hotspots, with changes of up to 150% experienced. China Mobile was able to respond quickly to these new patterns by accelerating 5G construction and converting 4G infrastructure.

5G has responded to the outbreak with healthcare interventions that include telemedicine collaboration, bedside consultation, emergency rescue vehicles and robotics.

During lockdown, schools and universities need to continue teaching, and 5G also allows the rapid setup and rollout of online learning solutions, Dr Yu adds.

The management of public places can be carried out by 5G-powered drones monitoring gathering, spraying disinfectants, patrolling the streets and even fighting fires.

“The more emergency arises, the more need there is for calm, help and unity,” Dr Yu says. “So let us work together to help fight the virus. We must win the battle.”

5G makes business sense as well, says Robert Wigger, chief business officer of Sunrise in Switzerland. He explains how his company has accelerated its business growth using 5G technology.

Network quality is key for the telecommunications company, which has the fastest and largest 5G network in Switzerland, already at an advanced stage.

“We have deployed 5G in about 20% of Swiss cities and towns,” Wigger says. “A strong networking is the foundation of our quality.”

Customer experience is also important, and Wigger says the company has been consistently improving its net promoter score (NPS) in customer service.

Over and above the network, Sunrise has launched a number of converged products, including 5G FWA and handsets, a mobile workplace service, smart manufacturing and smart farming.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, Sunrise has quickly enabled its own employees to work from home, as well as offering increased services for customers.

These include the provision of a high performance network and support both government and society as much as possible.

The company has also successfully rolled out its first 5G indoor solutions.