One of the hottest and most anticipated upcoming technology trends for 2019 is the Fifth Generation (5G) wireless network technology. It is expected to be a catalyst for innovations across various industries as everyone scrambles to adapt to the upgrade. According to an Ericsson survey, 92% of executives from 100 major telecom operators, globally, agree that 5G will pave the way for new emerging technologies.
The 5G network will especially help establish the Internet of Things as an indispensable part of our world, by laying the foundation for unleashing its full potential. Gartner speculates 20.4 billion connected devices in the world by 2020, a number that will continue to rise. Current wireless infrastructure just does not have the capacity to accommodate so many devices and ensure exchange of information without minor lags.
5G promises a more IoT friendly ecosystem, with vast improvements over the current capabilities of the 4G. Not only will it allow extremely fast data speeds, such as to render 4G as sluggish, 5G also means latency of a mere 1 millisecond. It means, one can download an HD film in seconds. Compared to the 4G LTE, it will be able to embrace up to 100 times more connected devices per unit area.
So how does it help expand the IoT platform? The idea behind IoT is to have multiple connected devices gathering data in real time over a particular period. However, the continuous exchange of data puts a strain on the network and the battery life of the devices. The new wireless network will see a 90% reduction in network energy usage, with up to 10 years worth of battery life for low power IoT devices.
It’s a long way to when 5G becomes mainstream, but businesses need to start now with developing and reimagining services and products to leverage 5G’s superior capabilities. Here is a look at a few industries where 5G and IoT together can bring about disruptions:
Self-driving cars: Sensors on self-driving cars generate a large amount of data, measuring temperature, traffic conditions, weather, GPS location etc. Producing and assimilating such quantity of data eats up a lot of energy. Such cars are also heavily reliant on real time transmission of information to provide optimum services. However, with high speed connectivity and low latency, it will become possible for these intelligent cars to constantly collect all sorts of data, including time-critical data, on which algorithms can work on to autonomously keep track of the working condition of the car and improve future designs.
Healthcare: The medical field will also see improvements in their services as all sorts of medical devices become IoT enabled. Rural areas and other similar remote locations without proper healthcare facilities will hugely benefit from IoT connectivity. With such low latency, world class healthcare services like surgeries performed remotely become a possibility.
Logistics: 5G connectivity will make it possible for sophisticated IoT tracking sensors that could transform logistics operations from end to end. Not only will the high speeds and low latency make it possible to gather data in real time, but the energy effectiveness will also make it possible for them to accumulate data of more varied nature, at all points within a supply chain and for a very long period of time. A consumer would have access to detailed information like where the fish she just bought was caught, what temperature was it stored in during transportation and when was it delivered to the retailer.
Smart cities: 5G will enable wider applications in smart city initiatives from water and waste management, traffic monitoring to enhanced healthcare facilities. Smart Cities will enjoy the benefits of the new generation network as more and more sensors make their way into city infrastructure. Not only will 5G be capable of handling the massive data load, but it will also make the integration of various intelligent systems, constantly communicating with each other a reality, bringing the vision of a truly connected city closer.
Retail: IoT for Retail will see a positive impact from the coming of 5G as they attempt to shape customer engagement and experiences through mobile phones. Better connectivity and larger number of devices connected to the network will allow them to interact with shoppers faster with improved digital signage. New and innovative ways of customer engagement that incorporate Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will become more popular. Retailers will be able to enhance the shopping experience by driving omnichannel retail practices more effectively.
5G and IoT together will also help in bringing every item on the shelf to the internet by creating digital twins for them. If the number of hardware connected devices is expected to be in the billions, the potential for ordinary consumer products with digital twins to be a part of the new Internet of Things is considerably more. Consumer products need not be constantly connected to the internet like hardware devices but will be able to send and receive information about themselves as connected smart products on event-based interactions with consumers and other entities through scanning, RFID readers, NFC taps and more. The current wireless infrastructure is not up to the task of managing so many products on the network, but 5G will make it possible. Smart Packaging and Digital Labels will transform the way retailers manage inventory and track logistics as well as provide a hotbed of innovation to use them as a means to creatively interact with consumers.
4G is inadequate for handling the data load from the ever-increasing number of sensors and connected devices coming online, limiting what IoT can truly achieve. With its high data speed, low latency, more flexibility, low energy consumption, cost-effectiveness and ability to withstand a far greater number of devices, the 5G is the perfect enabler for Internet of Things. We are looking at a future where not just mobiles, computers and tablets are linked to the internet, but a whole array of everyday objects, grocery products, and city assets. This presents new business opportunities for the emergence of organizations providing services and apps to manage complex IoT ecosystems and convert data into smart insights. 5G will play a significant part in transforming not just how we communicate, but businesses and society as a whole as well.