5G: Property Industry to Benefit

Asian Property Review interviews 5 leading lights in the property and related industries on the impact of 5G on real estate.

ELIZABETH SIEW

Lawyer and President, Malaysia PropTech Association

“5G is likely to reach speeds that are 20 times faster than 4G LTE1. 4G LTE has a peak speed of 1GB per second; 5G could theoretically achieve speeds of 20GB per second. With 5G, we can download a 2-hour movie in 3.6 seconds. 5G will result in high speed in transmission, more connectivity between devices and no latency (time lag between a transfer of data and the instruction for its transfer).

Property management will be more efficient and cost less. 5G will enable smart city, smart building and smart home. An example of a smart home is when the roof or walls will notify the system when they are about to suffer a leak.

Internet of things (IoT) and home gadgets are connected to each other and will ‘communicate’. The main beneficiary is not the home itself, but the people living within the home, particularly the elderly, children and people who need assisted living.

5G will disrupt the property industry in the following ways:

  • Enabling full functionality of smart city, smart building and smart home.
  • Leasing of real estate space for smaller cell towers which telecoms can place on rooftops, inside buildings and on building exteriors. The number of 5G cell towers will be much more than the current 4G towers. In all practicality, we will need 5G cell towers at every corner of the street. This will bring about new leasing opportunities for building owners.
  • Viewing of property through AR and VR can be deployed more efficiently with no latency. Real time viewing, response and communication between agents and buyers will bring about better user experience for the buyer.

Pros and Cons of 5G

Pros

People will live in a more efficient and connected manner with 5G. More opportunities of using technology to improve our lives.

Cons

Cyber Security: When all our devices, home and people are connected on cloud via 5G, cyber security risks could be a major concern. The increase in network speed would also mean faster speed of hacking.

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Cost of 5G: the initial cost of deploying high numbers of 5G cell towers could be costly. Just like any other technology, it will take time and scalability for the cost to come down.”

SCOTT MOREY

Executive Director at Altus Group

“According to IoT Analytics, the number of active IoT devices is expected to grow by 10 billion in 2020 to 22 billion by 2025. More building systems are becoming mission critical and any delay in performance isn’t acceptable. For example, if someone is unlocking their door via their phone, they can’t afford to wait or have it not work. If someone is adjusting their lighting or the temperature in the room they are in, it needs to work immediately.

The increased data rates and lower latency will better position mission critical activities that affect all of us and drive innovation. For example, in retail the push to create “experiences” is more critical than ever to the success of physical stores. That can occur in two ways – 1. Historical activities like payment/checkout can be automated to then allow the store personnel to better engage with the consumers. 2. How technology enables innovations within the store as it relates to inventory, integration with digital social oriented experiences and creating unique experiences with technology as the basis (e.g. high-tech dressing rooms).

There is significant cost in rolling out 5G. Property owners, telecom companies and our respective governments need to align on the strategies in rolling out these networks which isn’t an easy process.”

GEORG CHIMIEL

Juwai IQI Executive Chairman

“For the first few years, the transition to 5G won’t change your life much. The changes will accelerate and grow in scale as the infrastructure becomes more widely spread and the technology more developed. Within a decade or two, life could be so different with 5G and its successors that the present day might seem like the dark ages. In China, ASEAN countries and Malaysia, you will see 5G rolled out mostly in locations that already have advantages. More densely populated, wealthier areas and those with large populations of professional office workers will have a much faster roll-out of 5G infrastructure and network services than will other locations.

The countries with the biggest 5G network are likely to be China, the US, Japan and South Korea. The US and China are both expected to invest about US$25 billion per year on their wireless networks each year for the next decade.

National governments know that, if they don’t roll out 5G, they will get left behind in the next economic revolution. China, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and just about every country in the APAC region wants to roll out 5G as quickly as possible. The uneven distribution of 5G and later generations of technology is likely to accentuate the digital divide and create new divisions within cities and nations. Ultrafast 5G will tend to increase property values where it is present and to make property in other parts of the same city or country less desirable. You can imagine the technology and value divide increasing over time as the services that rely on the fast connections increase in sophistication. The Economist predicts that by 2025, only about 12% of wireless connections will be 5G.

5G can be so fast that you could download an entire Hollywood movie onto your phone in just a few seconds. Its responsiveness and speed will enable you to network almost everything about your home. In the 5G world, your refrigerator, microwave, security camera, electrical system, climate control, and just about everything else can be linked to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and create new services for you at home.

You know what they say, that the future is already here but just unevenly distributed. The same is true of the rollout of 5G. The rollout has already started, but not everywhere. In the United States, for example, you can now get ultra-fast 5G services in NFL football stadiums but probably not in your apartment building or house.

It is too soon to know exactly how people will adjust to this new technology and what other impacts it will have on the real estate market. For example, with fast 5G service, you might have the ability to put on VR goggles and virtually work alongside your colleagues from other locations. Will that make it more likely that you will tele-commute from an idyllic country setting? Or will it tend to push you towards living in one of the big cities where the most innovative companies are based? We don’t have all the answers yet, but we do know big changes are coming.

The biggest impact I foresee from the rollout stems from the fact that some places will get it and others won’t. Some locations may never get the ultrafast service, while others already have it. Access will affect property values and lifestyle choices. Would you pay more to live in a location with ultra-fast 5G service? I’m sure many people will. Services and conveniences will become available in 5G areas that aren’t possible in other locations. Smart cities will use 5G as their basic infrastructure. 5G will help make possible self-driving cars and even networks of vertical takeoff and landing air taxis, also known as flying cars. Areas without the service will be stuck in the past.”

SCOTT DUNN

Vice President for Southeast Asia at AECOM and is part of the Urban Land Institute Singapore Council, past founding Chairman and current co-Chair.

“5G is just a natural progression from 4G. The biggest game changing aspect of 5G would be in the integration of the various channels or devices that utilize faster speeds – these can be leveraged into revenue generating activities such as when it’s used for a micro grid within a neighbourhood which then produces excess electricity that can be sold or the savings passed on to the community.

5G would cause the business of data analytics to explode. All kinds of data analyses for commercial use would be produced to narrow down the target consumers. The barrage of information would also require storage hence benefiting data centres which will proliferate in countries like Singapore, South Korea and Japan which are home to major players in logistics and distribution.

Some newer property developments in these countries are already 5G-ready where building owners are able to monitor their buildings’ functions, such as lifts, lighting, security, water system and electricity – all of which are connected to a network. These will be better managed due to predictive maintenance in which maintenance personnel can see the operations of these functions in real time. If these can be operated more efficiently, this will reduce the total amount of power consumed which will in turn reduce the amount of carbon footprint.

Drone delivery will skyrocket and drone sizes will get bigger as they become the norm for delivery of goods and packages. But older buildings are not designed for drone delivery so there will be a shift in building design to cater for drone delivery, for example, purpose-built landing platform or drone-friendly windows.

Airports also need to be redesigned to be more self-contained and to cater to a digital sensor network throughout the entire airport. All the different vehicles servicing the plane can also be autonomous.

In manufacturing, robots have been hardwired into the network system; 5G enables faster coordination and speed of work.

In short, 5G will further improve the quality of life. Countries at the forefront of 5G implementation are China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, the UK, the US; meanwhile, trials are being done in Singapore and Malaysia.

There will also be lots of new applications and inventions coming out of 5G implementation which we don’t know yet today. The early adopters will realise some of the benefits much quicker.”

CLAUDE TOUIKAN

Co-founder & Executive Director of Lead8

Redevelopment

5G for designers presents a vast list of opportunities and challenges. One of the most foreseeable changes is the up-and-coming 5G Smart Grid system which will eventually overhaul transportation as we know it. The network will enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (e.g. drones) and driverless cars to be automated and ultimately change how goods and people are transported in our cities.

This in turn has an impact on how we approach the design of our cities. Take our inner city developments as an example; including some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Majority of these buildings have significant car parking facilities, an important component in their design. As these facilities eventually become redundant with adoption of driverless cars, their potential for redevelopment is exciting. Will these be our future warehouses servicing drone and UAV delivery systems? Will these introduce a new breed of tenants into our city centres, changing the offer within our Central Business Districts? Will our future developments take on new forms as they are no longer defined by accommodating large car parking facilities at their base?

Speed of Communication

The success of any design and construction process in many ways comes down to effective and efficient communication between the huge, multi-disciplinary teams. With the introduction of 5G, teams will be able to further enhance their ability to communicate with the network being able to carry massive numbers of connections simultaneously. Ultra-high-resolution videos, drones, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) all stand to benefit from the introduction of 5G.

Endless Possibilities

5G in full operation will give birth to thousands of new systems, ones which we haven’t even dreamt of yet. 5G is the missing link to many AI applications, automated equipment and devices which will unleash a new wave of opportunities that will impact all sectors and geographies around the world.

For those working in design and the built environment, some of the fundamentals we have designed over the decades will be replaced by new demands and possibilities. It will catalyse the biggest shift for our profession since the wider introduction of automated design tools 15 – 20 years ago.

We are exploring these opportunities with our clients already, working with some of the world’s leading property developers, owners and operators on the possibilities 5G presents for the future.

Technology is already helping us to work quicker, more efficiently and remotely. This is, in theory, giving us more time to pursue social and leisure endeavours, the concept of ‘Work and Play’ running parallel. We believe the introduction of 5G won’t cause an oversupply in residential properties, as it will encourage us to design developments and places which have flexible uses and changing programmes. Spaces that have evolved to become more versatile, efficient, sustainable and as engaging as our lifestyle preferences which are influenced by a new level of connectivity.

We will have unlimited access to information, creating convenience in every aspect of our lives and the ability to always plan ahead and avoid delays. Together with the development of AI thanks to 5G, the flow of information will be uninterrupted.

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