The way that we live, work, learn and play has shifted dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we navigate these uncharted waters, all of us must reimagine ways to stay connected at work, with family and with our social groups. Fortunately, a growing array of technologies, including the new 5G network, can provide much-needed connections with others — and help all of us to feel less isolated.
Today, families are using video chat applications to hold virtual weekend gatherings. Strength and conditioning coaches are streaming daily workouts from their garages to motivate healthy behavior. Educators are turning to a variety of technology tools to deliver live lectures, upload video sessions and share whiteboard lessons with students. Several universities in Malaysia have already gone on to adopt such practices to facilitate online learning, where it encouraged and boosted virtual classes and interactions involving their students and academic staff.
As for the elderly and those who provide care for them, connectivity technology is critical especially in Malaysia where its ageing population continues to be on the rise. With the spotlight on healthcare as one of the nine industries with the upcoming 5G technology this year, the Malaysian government acknowledges the challenges faced and works hard to prepare the nation and address the needs of an ageing population in time to come.
Musicians have turned social media into virtual venues to remind us all that music can uplift our spirits and connect us in ways that in-person concerts never could. Singer, songwriter and drummer by trade, George Hrab of Pennsylvania has begun livestreaming performances in lieu of a postponed tour. Hrab observed a huge shift in the relationship between audiences and artists, who traditionally are separated by physical barriers and security guards at concerts. He explains, “It can be a very intimate thing,” knowing that performers will see what you’re typing to them in real time.
In Malaysia, musicians and poets have gone on to leverage online tools for livestreaming performances for a good cause in a bid to raise funds to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, further displaying how differences can be made to local communities with technology as an enabler.
For isolated older adults who prefer living in their familiar homes, technology can be a boon — allowing for easy connectivity with loved ones and providing access to health care via telemedicine. Many are using social media, messaging and videoconferencing to maintain the human connection that is so essential despite the current obstacles. And increasingly, seniors are turning to telemedicine to receive a wide range of health services from their doctors without having to travel to a health care facility.
Acceleration of technology makes it possible
All these examples of staying connected and engaged during times of isolation are made possible by technology that didn’t exist even just five years ago. Imagine what this isolated lifestyle would be like if the COVID-19 pandemic happened in 2005 when smartphones didn’t exist, video chatting was crude and basic, and online services were just beginning. Additionally, the world’s cellular network was still on 3G back then, and our cell phones had very limited capabilities beyond voice calls.
The rollout of 5G, the fifth-generation cellular network that features downloading speeds reportedly 100 times faster than that of 4G (and about 500 times faster than 3G), is accelerating performance in a time that needs connectivity and bandwidth more than ever. The 5G technology is also expected to roll out commercially in Malaysia by Q3 2020, allowing possibilities in connectivity enabled by technology to happen in the near future.
To understand how “staying at home” is affecting the network, let’s look at some numbers that have grown recently. The Malaysian Digital Association (MDA) reported enormous spikes in traffic for video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, which grew in excess of 3,180%compared to the sequential traffic in the first half of March. A 24% increase in consumer usage of VPN in Malaysia was also experienced according to ExpressVPN, a global VPN provider since 2009.
This dramatic increase in network traffic is requiring the communications industry — from internet service providers to data center infrastructure companies — to add capacity and engineering resources necessary to handle spikes and shift in use patterns. Ultimately, the amount of user data is exploding worldwide, putting strain on networks to store and move this data without performance bottlenecks.
The expanding role of memory and storage
To keep vast quantities of data moving efficiently for worldwide connectivity, cloud servers and the networks that glue them together need a lot of memory. Today’s cloud services offer virtually infinite amounts of capacity to satisfy our escalating needs for video-, audio- and livestreaming. The need for memory is only going to grow, both in the cloud and at the edge, as up-and-coming technologies (like artificial intelligence and virtual reality) become more prevalent in data centers and even in personal devices.
For connectivity applications to continue providing quality user experiences, they must use the combination of both the cloud and the intelligent edge to process massive quantities of data in real time. With 5G, the amount of data generated from user devices accelerates, requiring even more data to be stored, moved, processed and secured efficiently.
Micron has long been at the forefront of memory and storage technology, and we hold that place today with our powerful, fast DRAM memory chips and our high-density NAND flash memory. We are committed to helping keep the world’s 5G connections flowing by delivering memory innovation and engineering expertise to our customers and partners.
Knowing that Micron is doing our part to help everyone tune into the world outside our doors, even when we’re staying indoors, provides us with a sense of empowerment. And when we can’t visit the people we love in person, technology can act as a second set of eyes and ears, increasing connections and perhaps easing our worries.
Learn more at my.micron.com/5gmemory.