By Juergen Hase, CEO, Unlimit
Member, Digital Communications Working Group, IET IoT Panel
5G mobile networks are expected to be the next big leap in mobile broadband. Peak download speeds as high as 20 gigabits-per-second will enable specialised tasks like remote precision medicine, connected vehicles, virtual and augmented reality, and a wide array of IoT applications. 5G represents a fundamental shift in communication network architectures. It promises to accelerate future revenue generation through innovative services facilitated via 5G-enabled devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and IoT.
According to a recent Gartner reporter by 2022, half of the Communication Service Providers (CSP) that have completed commercial 5G deployments will fail to monetise their back-end technology infrastructure investments, due to systems not fully meeting 5G use case requirements. Most CSPs will only achieve a complete end-to-end 5G infrastructure on their public networks during the 2025-to-2030-time frame. A 5G platform will impact many industries including automotive, entertainment, agriculture, manufacturing and IT.
More than 500 billion IoT devices, from sensors, to actuators, to devices, will be connected to the internet by 2030, according to research from Cisco. The data collected, aggregated and analysed by IoT devices will deliver insights across a wide variety of platforms and services, from health care to artificial intelligence innovations. 5G networks will be needed to meet the requirements of these data-intensive IoT devices and related cloud services.
We believe that there is a sense of eagerness and urgency with respect to the arrival of 5G in India. The industry is likely to witness a timely arrival of 5G in line with global launches unlike 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. In order to understand the economics and performance, operators are taking intermediate steps to evolve from LTE to LTE-A and LTE-A pro in preparation for 5G. Some of the network suppliers have already commenced 5G trials with Indian operators. With 5G, operators can empower their entire facility, on and off-premises, seamlessly with one network for near-wireless operations and quicker adoption of new technologies.
5G is expected to extend beyond the traditional voice and data services. 5G network characteristics of increased reliability, lower latency, higher throughput, increased connection density would enable massive commercial deployments of technologies such as IoT, AI, RPA, AR/VR facilitating use cases across industries like automotive, media and entertainment, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and agriculture amongst others.
Compared to third generation mobile networking, 4G enabled previously impossible quality video streaming and calling on the go, meaning live TV. More video streaming, however, had increased congestion in the network. Perhaps, 5G’s biggest differentiator to 4G will be as a gateway for the IoT connected world. Recapitulations of 5G networking are expected to be revolutionary for data-driven industries, smart cities and infrastructure management because it will be possible to have many more devices working, reliably, securely and uninterrupted in the same area. Overall, due to the new technologies, spectrum and frequencies it uses, 5G has several benefits over 4G.
5G could also be used to unify the connectivity of large networks of sensors in industrial facilities, helping feed high-resolution digital twins of equipment and potentially entire factories. Such real-time digital models could then enable industrial companies to run virtual simulations and deploy predictive analytics or equip field-service workers with AR headsets providing comprehensive real-time information and analytics that disclose what’s going on inside of industrial machines. Utilities could use 5G to remotely monitor what is happening at remote wind farms while using the connectivity to help optimize resource management across the grid. Manufacturers and logistics companies could use 5G for robust end-to-end supply chain tracking, or possibly to support blockchain-based supply chain initiatives.