by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa is not ready for the sixth generation mobile system standard (6G) currently under development for wireless communications technologies.
With the digital divide wider than ever, Africa’s most advanced, albeit beleaguered, economy also does not need 5G.
Instead, it should focus on connecting the entire population to 4G.
These are sentiments of Paul Colmer, EXCO member at Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA), amid the hype around 6G, which he believes is driven by manufacturers needing to “keep pushing the envelope” to have something “new and better.”
This is at the expense of addressing real end user needs, he argued.
“In fact, I’m not aware of any overwhelming 5G success stories anywhere in the world, let alone here at home, where the digital divide is wider than ever,” Colmer said.
“As if that’s not enough, we haven’t even started hitting our stride when it comes to 5G adoption and some vendors are already talking up the coming 6G evolution, which South Africa is quite simply not ready for.”
Colmer argued South Africa does not need to rush headlong into the “second half of the chessboard” when it has not even started to saturate society with the technology already available.
The “second half of the chessboard” is a phrase coined by Ray Kurzweil in reference to the point where an exponentially growing factor begins to have a significant economic impact on an organization’s overall business strategy.
“We don’t need 6G – or even 5G. What we need is every person connected to 4G internet, to have affordable access to a smartphone and to shrink the digital divide,” Colmer asserted.
In the pursuit of profits, he believes wireless internet service providers and cellular operators can far more realistically and responsibly look to meet the government mandate of not leaving anyone behind.
“Should we not be diverting our efforts to what existing technologies can deliver and creating truly connected societies, especially in Africa where we need it most?” he quipped, rhetorically.
WAPA, established in 2006, is a non-profit trade association acting as a collective voice for the South African wireless industry.
– CAJ News