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Consumers are driving the demand for a better mobile broadband experience. However, it is the business who really commands the real use cases for 5G. In 2020,   connected devices will be installed worldwide. In four years, that number is expected to double and reach 62.12 billion. New connectivity standards will be required to support the rapidly growing IoT ecosystem. 5G is the technology most organizations bank on.
What is 5G Technology?
5G is the next generation of mobile wireless communications, poised to replace the current 4G LTE connection in the upcoming years. 5G wireless connection assumes faster download/upload speeds, lower latency and increased capacity.
For instance, 5G internet speed will be approximately   faster than 4G, with the minimum download speed capped at 20 GB/s (while 4G can muster only 4 GB/s). Data transfer speed will be accelerated as well from approx. 10 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps and beyond – a massive shift towards more seamless and effective connectivity.
Overall this will translate into the following benefits for businesses and consumers:
- Shorter delays: 5G will accommodate larger data transfers and minimize the lag in time from when data is sent/received. This will enable real-time connectivity for IoT data exchanges, connected cars and other “smart” objects plugged to the network.
- Increased connectivity: 5G mobile network architecture will significantly increase the capacity for resources provisioning. More people and devices will be able to communicate at the same time without overloading the network.
- Faster speed: As mentioned already, 5G speed will trump 4G, and likely become comparable (or even faster) to fiber optic wired networks.
- Mobility: 5G enables base stations to support movement from 0 to 310 mph, meaning sustainable operations on-the-go (e.g., on a high-speed train).
- Improved connection density: 5G is expected to accommodate connected devices more than LTE and support up to 1 million connected objects per square kilometer. That’s significant considering the growth of IoT devices.
But when is 5G coming to town? According to  , by 2022, 5G connections will comprise 3% of the total mobile connections (equal to 422 million 5G devices and M2M connections around the world). By the same time, the average 5G connection will generate about 3X more traffic than the average 4G connection (8 GB/month). A   also indicates that 66% of businesses plan to deploy 5G by 2020. Clearly, the race is on!
5G networks will rely on a higher frequency band of the wireless spectrum (28 GHz and 60 GHz), compared to 4G, as well as leverage the underused lower range frequencies such as the 3.5 GHz.
In short, 5G mobile technology will operate on three different spectrum bands to take the better of both worlds:
- Low-band spectrum (sub 1 GHz) is now primarily used by telecom companies in the US. Hence, it’s rapidly becoming depleted. Yet, it still offers the best coverage area and penetration. The major con is that peak data speeds are maxed out at 100Mbps.
- Mid-band spectrum comes with faster coverage and lower latency, however, it often fails to penetrate buildings. The peak speeds are capped at 1 GB.
- High-band spectrum can accelerate peak speeds up to 10 Gbps while ensuring very low latency. The disadvantage, however, is that currently it has low coverage area and building penetration is sub-par. But there’s a lot of bandwidth available to users.
Telecom players are tackling the 5G connectivity issue in somewhat different ways. T-Mobile decided to capitalize on the underutilized low-band spectrum and picked up a significant amount of   in 2017 to build their network.
Sprint decided to secure a large fraction of the unused mid-band spectrum and   (Multiple-input multiple-output) technology to improve building penetration and coverage. MIMO enables transmission and retrieval of more than one data signal at the same time and frequency. Massive MIMO setups can include tens or even hundreds of antennas to maximize the signal quality. For instance,   deployed a pilot MIMO system containing 96 to 128 antennas.
Apart from MIMO, Sprint also plans to use beamforming to improve 5G performance even further. Beamforming is a system for cellular base stations that assists with the identification of the most effective data-delivery route to a particular user. At MIMO base stations, the algorithms can dispatch individual data packets in multiple directions, efficiently bypassing buildings and other objects in a choreographed pattern. This way, the system allows exchanging more data at once, while reducing the interference for nearby users. The newer MIMO arrays are also more energy-efficient, offering an additional cost reduction for telecoms. For instance, Nokia’s Reef Shark chipset allows cutting the MIMO antenna size in half and  .
Additionally, beamforming can be used to address several problems with 5G service delivered on the high-frequency spectrum:
- Improve penetration and coverage by focusing the signal in a concentrated beam that points only in the direction of a user.
- Reduce the interference for other network participants.
- Strengthen the signal’s chances of arriving intact.
plan to provide 5G telecom services on a high-band spectrum. They intend to supplement it by the LTE and other frequencies while rolling out nationwide networks, powered by small cells.
Small cells are micro, low-power base stations (picocells, microcells, femtocells) that aid connectivity. They cover small geographic areas and aid with signal transmission:
- Increase data capacity;
- Eliminate the need to install expensive rooftop or other systems;
- Improve smartphone performance. When phones are positioned closer to small cell stations, they transmit at lower power levels, thus substantially increasing the battery life.
How Will 5G Transform Telecommunications and Other Industries?
Both consumers and businesses are surging the demand for 5G standard. According to  , network slicing – a new type of virtual networking architecture that enables delivery of unique sets of optimized resources and network topology, tailored to specific use cases – can generate approximately US$66 billion in additional value for the telecom companies.
The demand for 5G mobile and wireless communications technology will be majorly driven by increasing digital, cloud, and security requirements of multiple industries including automotive, logistics, retail, entertainment and manufacturing among others.
Specifically, 5G release will speed up tech advancements in the following business areas:
- Connected cars, autonomous driving and self-driving.
- AR, VR and MR, including 3D video and UHD screens.
- Industry 4.0 – industrial IoT and increased automation.
- Smart Cities – transport, infrastructure, logistics.
- Connected Healthcare – robotics, wearable telemetry, transmission of HD images, and blockchain use cases in healthcare.
- Smart Home ecosystems.
In essence, all 5G use cases can be grouped into the following categories:
- Fixed wireless. 5G wireless network will enable the new type of Internet accesses that do not rely on fixed lines, and yet offer great speed, low latency and top capacity. This will enable a wider range of connectivity use cases.
- Enhanced Mobile Broadband. By leveraging mmWave antennas, the 5G standard will propel mobile computing performance to the entirely new level, enabling high-speed immersive and cloud-connected experiences with real-time responsiveness. The boldest projections state that 5G can handle up to 20 Gb/s peak throughput and 1 Gbps throughput in high mobility.
- Massive machine-type communications (mMTC). Further advancements in 5G development will allow seamless connection of embedded sensors in any object, rapidly advancing the adoption of IoT by different industries. In particular, 5G will play a huge role in supporting the smart cities/smart homes; improving asset tracking and logistics; revolutionizing the industrial manufacturing and maintenance processes, as well as transforming other industries ready to adopt IoT.
- Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC). Several emerging applications, such as self-driving cars, robotics and drones, require a new type of data communications featuring ultra-high reliability and deadline-based low latency requirements. URLLC can potentially make 5G more competitive than satellite, with some telcos now exploring the possibility of 5G replacing GPS for geolocation.
5G Technology Use Cases for Businesses, Plus Key Benefits
Within the next decade, the 5th generation technology is expected to become the backbone of autonomous cars, VR applications and industrial IoT, enabling seamless connectivity at breakneck speed. For businesses, this translates into multiple lucrative use cases worth exploring.
1. Improved Industrial Internet of Things Communication.
Per  , the majority of enterprises (57%) state that 5G will drive Internet of Things communication and they plan to adopt it within their organization. This should come as no surprise, considering the potential revenue gains –   that are currently deploying industrial IoT projects will experience double-digit growth in the next 5 years and one in five companies also expects a 20% increase in sales.
In the manufacturing industry, several millions of connected devices will be soon present on the floors. 5G communications can create better connectivity among those gadgets. 5G architecture paired with machine learning algorithms and big data analytics will enable better control of a lot of processes that are performed manually today. Several profitable use cases emerge as a result:
Wireless industrial control. 5G will enable wireless industrial control in new areas that have been previously inaccessible due to limits in latency required for smooth operations. The costly wear and tear of cables stops being a problem. Connected assembly line can be created with non-hardwired, mobile robots operating alongside with human teams. Additionally, the previously closed-loop systems that require super-fast cycle-time ranges can be made wireless.
Smart factories. Creating interconnected, efficient and semi-automatic smart factories is impossible without a strong communications architecture in place. IoT devices, robots and human personnel should be able to exchange data to collaborate effectively. With the arrival of 5G, those gadgets will no longer need to be wired to gain access to a low-latency, high-speed, high-capacity network.
Wearable technology communication. Smart helmets, glasses and other wearables are becoming more present on the manufacturing floors and in the training facilities. With 5G mobile data, the wearables become capable of delivering seamless service continuity while being away from the phone range. 5G also accelerates the speed of compute/storage delivering, meaning that all sorts of smart gadgets can go from being companion devices to robust standalone gadgets.
Ultimately, 5G will be most suited for a subset of IoT use cases requiring a combination of high data exchange rates and very low latency. New use cases will also emerge post-2020, as 5G will become more adjusted to support massive machine-type communications or ultra-reliable and low-latency communications.
2. Smart Grids.
The global demand for electricity is growing at an enormous pace. To manage the demand, new technological solutions such as smart grids and virtual power plants have emerged. Virtual Power Plants (VPP) are connected entities, aimed at optimizing the energy flow through the entire network. VPPs help owners gain maximum profit while keeping the balance of the electric network at the lowest cost available. Typically, they combine several types of resources such as solar panels, wind turbines, microgrids and energy storing installations, equipped with sensors.
5G will allow assets owners to monitor and balance the precise generation and delivery of energy in real-time, match the resources with the demand levels and create fewer emissions due to the increased efficiency. The particular advantage here is that all the transmission transactions can be instantaneous.
Furthermore, companies and individuals producing an energy surplus could create second revenue streams by accumulating and trading that energy using smart contracts and blockchain.
3. Improved Car Connectivity.
Fully autonomous, self-driving cars may not be a reality just yet. But semi-autonomous vehicles with intelligent driving systems installed by default will be present on the highways in 2021. And by 2022,   shipped by OEMs will come equipped with smart telematics and other connectivity systems.
The greater state of connectivity results in multiple new technological innovations and business models including new fleet management solutions, in-car payments and connected commerce, remote diagnostics and OTA updates, predictive maintenance, usage-based auto insurance and more. However, all of these use cases require a greater volume of data exchanges, expected to be fulfilled by 5G:
5G will have life-changing impacts on the automotive industry, manifesting itself in the following manner:
Next-gen infotainment systems. OEMs will receive a new advanced medium for connecting with the drivers on the go. 5G-powered infotainment systems will move on from being sat-nav music control panels towards becoming remote offices, full-fledged entertainment systems and new advertising systems.
Today, manufacturers such as Mercedes are already experimenting with “In-Car Office” functionality. While GM is working on establishing new partnerships with hotels and food chains to expand their “commerce on the go” services suit. 5G will be the technological backbone for delivering high-speed services and top-quality infotainment on the go, as well as over-the-air (OTA) updates to the vehicles’ software and firmware.
Advanced asset and fleet management. Fleet managers and logistics companies are under increased pressure to maximize SLAs and reduce downtime. However, keeping track of all the “moving” assets/inventory requires a lot of manpower.
Smart telematics systems, sensors and connected driving systems are gradually overtaking that chore from the human teams. The emerging 5G network features will allow fleet managers to connect even more devices and ensure truly real-time connectivity and remote control over all assets.
Autonomous driving. Fully autonomous level 5 vehicles (the car requires no input from a human to drive) are at least a decade from going mainstream:
However, to benefit from this innovation of tomorrow, savvy organization are already heavily investing in support of autonomous cars ecosystem. After all, self-driving cars will act as movable computing platforms and transmit enormous volumes of data – approx.  . This data will need to be rapidly uploaded to a cloud platform, operationalized by AI algorithms and transmitted back to the vehicle in form of driving instructions. These exchanges will need to happen within milliseconds to ensure smooth and safe driving. The features of 5G technology described previously can make such rapid data exchanges a reality.
5G will also serve as a backbone for the new peer-to-peer wireless technology called C-V2X – a connectivity protocol that would enable better information exchanges between different objects in the environment, such as other self-driving cars, smart street lights, toll booths, construction signs, and other roadside infrastructure.
has already announced its intention to integrate C-V2X modules into the new range of cars. Audi, Honda, BMW, Daimler, Nissan, Hyundai, and Volvo have also expressed their support of the technology and are active members of the   (5GAA), a consortium of automotive companies that helps develop C-V2X and advocates for its use.
4. Smart Cities.
With urban population density growing at a rapid pace, governments all over the world are looking into digital solutions for the common citizens’ problems such as traffic congestion, better public transport and more effective public services delivery.
5G will bring a greater state of connectivity to all the distributed sensors participating in the smart city ecosystem and enable rapid data exchanges between them, bringing more technical solutions into existence. Smart city systems applied to the traffic management and electrical grids alone can generate approximately   in benefits and savings for municipalities.
Ultimately, it is estimated that 5G could help create additional 2.2 million jobs, and approximately $420 billion in annual GDP, spread across small-to-large-size communities in the U.S.
What kind of solutions 5G can enable in cities?
- Smart street lights. A connected system that will manage the schedule of the street lights, combined with using LED lights can decrease energy costs by   and generate a positive ROI in four years.
- Connected CCTV systems can streamline more data in real-time to ensure better monitoring of traffic conditions, and public safety. For example, smart streetlights equipped with a video camera and/or gunshot detection sensor can deliver real-time information to officials so that they can respond faster.
- Intelligent parking. Smart parking stations can send 5G data about the free parking spots and pricing straight to the driver’s onboard vehicle system. Such solutions can  , and generate $93,70 in monthly revenue per parking space.
- Connected traffic lights. New real-time traffic management systems can emerge and deliver a more granular level of control over the flow of traffic through the cities in response to specific demand levels. The integration of 5G will allow to create and deploy traffic strategies in response to real-time conditions (rush hour, congestions in specific areas, etc.). City managers could also exercise other strategies for giving priority to public transport and optimizing the overall traffic flow to reduce the stop-start driving, which leads to higher pollution.
5. Smart Homes.
Lack of seamless interoperability, plus limited connectivity have been two major roadblocks to wider smart home adoption. As a result,   own smart devices, leaving a huge segment of the market untouched.
mMTC, powered by 5G, can bring a vast range of new IoT features to the smart homeowners:
- Deliver a more immersive viewing and gaming experience, when coupled with VR and AR.
- Simplify connectivity as users will be able to install smart home solutions on their own, while diagnostics and maintenance can be performed remotely.
- Ensure greater flexibility when it comes to connecting multiple devices ranging from an array of smart appliances (thermostats, TV, fridges) to building controls (lighting, heating), sensors and security cameras.
Moreover, 5G, when coupled with IPv6, has a strong potential to create a home environment where no LAN is needed to enable a wireless connection.
6. Connected Healthcare.
Healthcare is another industry ripe for 5G disruption. EHR/EMR systems adoption and digitalization of medical data/records are just the first few steps towards more modern and effective healthcare. 5G will allow patients to receive more timely care and monitoring, whereas healthcare providers will benefit from faster and more inclusive access to medical data.
Faster medical image transmission. Speedy delivery of test results can be crucial for successful patient outcomes. However, MRIs and other image machines typically generate enormous files. For instance, at the  , the PET scanner generates up to 1 GB of information per patient per study. Transmitting those files on low bandwidth is highly cumbersome. Adding a 5G network to the hospital architecture can speed up the data transfer and improve both access and the quality of provided care.
. More and more healthcare providers have telemedicine programs underway, backed by government initiatives. So far, the results of such initiatives were overwhelmingly positive:
- Hospital readmissions decreased   at Veterans Health Administration post-telemedicine adoption.
- Patients enrolled in a telemedicine program were   to be readmitted within 30 days. Additionally, 21% of patients say that the quality of the telemedicine services was similar to or higher than an in-person visit.
Beyond that, telemedicine can improve access to healthcare in the rural locations and remote locations (such as oil rigs) where no access to medical staff is readily available. With the adoption of 5G, the quality of telemedicine appointments can largely increase due to faster data exchanges and better video streaming quality. Medical professionals will also become capable of controlling medical equipment in the patient’s vicinity in real time and conduct more complex checkups remotely.
Emergency service bio-connectivity. Patient survival during prehospital time is utmost important. 5G can enable better connectivity on-the-go and allow paramedics to dispatch critical patient’s data, such as high-resolution images, high-quality video, to the hospital before their arrival.
Ambulance personnel can also hold real-time video conferencing with the hospital staff, as well as enable communication between the ambulance equipment and telemedicine tools at hospitals. All of this will result in better prehospital care.
Real-time bio connectivity through wearables. Different wearables and remote monitoring IoT devices can be given to patients to improve treatment plans and deliver preventive care. The usage of wearable health tech is expected to decrease hospital costs  .
At-home monitoring devices can be also deployed to monitor the patient’s’ vitals and schedule treatment at an optimal time (e.g., when the blood count is high enough). This would eliminate unnecessary trips to the hospital for patients. As well, medical wearables
and at-home bio-connectivity devices can be used to collect the essential health data remotely and eliminate the need for regular check-ups.
At present, however, remote monitoring technology usage is limited due to insufficient speed of data transmission and unreliable connections. 5G can change that, enabling doctors to make faster healthcare decisions and catch life-threatening health conditions earlier, even from a distance.
The Main 5G Technology Adoption Challenges
The described 5G use cases hold great promise for multiple industries and different cohorts of users. And though 5G services are being gradually rolled out by telecom providers in the US, there’s still a long road ahead to widespread usage. Here’s what holding 5G aback:
1. Spectrum availability.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, spectrum bands will be crucial to delivering 5G services across the different use cases. Specifically, telecom providers will need to work out the optimal combination of available options and secure enough bandwidth. Before that happens, 5G services quality may remain lower than anticipated.
2. The cost factor.
As carriers have cumulatively invested over $300 billion in the development of 5G infrastructure and services, the cost of 5G initially will be steep. Businesses now considering the usage of 5G will have to build a strong business case for it, to ensure that their investment will bring in a positive ROI in the long run.
Consumers’ concerns over privacy are mounting as 5G will simplify access to their location data. Many people fear that businesses will resell, or otherwise transfer, that data to brokers and advertisers. These valid concerns will need to be proactively addressed by service providers. All the data collection will need to take place in line with the local regulations.
5G will enable wider usage of the new cloud/virtualization technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). Both of them are highly flexible and programmable in nature, meaning they are more vulnerable to security threats. For instance, an SDN network element, such as the management interface, could be used to gain access to the SDN controller and bring down the entire system as a result.
Thus, finding the right approach to 5G security will be paramount for businesses. Several mechanisms are worth considering:
- Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA);
- Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)-based secondary authentication.
Additionally, companies who plan to use or produce Radio Access Network (RAN)-side 5G devices should also mind the increased Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) threat.
Infopulse team would be delighted to further consult you on the technical aspects of 5G services adoption, and help you build a strong business and technological use case for your business. Our professionals have extensive experience in developing innovative, secure and compliant IoT solutions for the automotive and manufacturing companies, as well as significant knowledge of the telecom industry. Contact us today.