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The last part of the panel answered a futuristic question. How the response to COVID-19 would have been if 5G was already deployed? An Jian, President of Carrier Business Group, Huawei Middle East Region mentioned China as an example of how 5G helped in the intervention to counter the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, China had already deployed 5G. During the pandemic, 5G helped ease the impact of COVID-19. In the first quarter, the economy is China declined by 6.8%, however the ICT industry GDP grew by 13%. In Wuhan city, two hospitals were built in 7 days and there was no fiber connection to the hospital. By means of 5G, we enabled connectivity in those hospitals within 3 days.”

According to Ghazi Atallah, CEO, NXN, the real time aspect on health and security would have been a lot better. “In such times, the ability to reach people and communicate with them in real time would have made a great impact. Having the infrastructure and real time capability would have made the difference.”

“Digital everything will be required from telcos in the near future. One of the challenges of working from home is the digital identity, the ability to pay for things and pay for things and these elements have become part of the infrastructure”.

5G is set to have a transformative effect on all sectors and what this pandemic has highlighted is the need to look into the opportunity that resides at the level of education. Students had to experience remote education during COVID-19 and not all of those experiences were successful.

How would have 5G changed the educational experience in times like these?  Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj, Senior VP of Technology and Operations Unit, stc said, “If 5G acceleration would have happened during the pandemic, households would have received a much better connectivity. The educational sector would have definitely benefited from the capabilities of 5G.”

Mohamed Samir, VP of Global Services for Middle East and Africa, Nokia added that 5G will definitely change education and healthcare and will thus accelerate digital transformation.

5G would have saved the economy, Femi Oshiga, VP, Service Providers, MEA, CommScope confirmed. “5G should be promoted and hopefully the use cases that were missing today will benefit all sectors and industries."

Hatem Bamatraf, CTO, Etisalat agreed with Femi Oshiga and said that because of the lack of the digital nature of businesses, the economy has been impacted severely.

About the impact that 5G would have had on education today, he said, “I still believe that being in a classroom is more effective than learning from home because of the experience. If 5G was already deployed and has enabled a VR/AR experience, education would have been a lot easier today.”

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