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Consumers are driving the demand for a better mobile broadband experience. Many men many minds, but not when it comes to expert opinions regarding the surge of the pandemic that only fueled the growth of the 5G market. The 5G industry worldwide is expected to rise by   by 2027.
In addition, Covid-19 has incited the appetites for faster and omnipresent connectivity: the pandemic might spur demand for robust telecommunications infrastructure since more and more people have to get used to working and living remotely. However, it is the business that really commands actual use cases for 5G and its pivotal role in the growing connectivity realm.
In 2025,   billion connected devices will be installed worldwide and in five years, that number is expected to add another 30% and reach 50 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 a more seamless and effective connectivity.
5G is still a work in progress. It is an emerging technology considering the future velocity of broadband services. Still, some reputable sources pin high hopes on it. Statista explored the current speed of 4G vs 5G in some of the developed countries around the world that prove its potential:
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 into the network.
- Increased connectivity: 5G mobile network architecture will significantly increase the capacity for resource 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 more connected devices 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 2023, 5G connections will comprise more than 10% of the total mobile connections (equal to 1.4 billion of 5G capable devices around the world). At the same time, global M2M connections will reach 14.7 billion, which is 4.1 billion more than the source’s projection for 2021. Beyond that, global forecasts for the 5G subscriptions are   people by 2025, with the Chinese market share being   of it. Clearly, the race is on!
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) relates to general coverage such as indoors, urban, rural areas, and suburbs. Increased low-band capacity is necessary to bridge the gap between urban and rural broadband connectivity and tackle digital inequality. Low-band spectrum is now primarily used by telecom companies in the US. Hence, it is 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 (1 GHz – 6 GHz) comes with faster coverage and lower latency, however, it often fails to penetrate buildings. The peak speeds are capped at 1 GB. Mid-bands are usually a ‘golden means’ of coverage and capacity advantages. The majority of commercial 5G networks use the 3.3-3.8 GHz spectrum range.
- High-band spectrum (24 GHz+) can accelerate peak speeds up to 10 Gbps while ensuring very low latency. However, there are two sides to every story and this one is no exception. Ultra-high, lightning-fast bands currently have low coverage area and building penetration is sub-par. But there is a lot of bandwidth available to users.
Telecom players are tackling the 5G connectivity issue in somewhat different ways. The   authorities conducted a 5G spectrum auction, where the largest mobile network operator in the country EE secured the most low-band 700 MHz spectrum. Although the majority of operators target mid-band spectrum for 5G, EE decided to have the best of two worlds at the auction and bought spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band as well as low-band 700 MHz that includes paired 2×10 MHz and supplementary downlink.
On the other side of the ocean, the   turned to be the globe’s most expensive mid-band 5G deal to date. The auction marked a turning point in the country’s 5G-approach to the mid-band spectrum: earlier these frequencies were a privilege of the satellite TV industry. Since those kinds of TV services are no longer popular, there arose a need to allocate those frequencies for other purposes, particularly 5G. The C-Band auction is a long-awaited pivot of many of those numerous attempts.   reports that Verizon went beyond 30 billion USD, while the rest of its major and minor competitors spent around 45 billion USD in total.
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 the 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.
Earlier,   plan to provide 5G telecom services on a high-band spectrum. They intended 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 the 5G standard. According to  , network slicing is the creation of several unique logical and virtualized networks on top of a common multi-domain infrastructure. The market is booming and has a promising future: the global projections are  , with high-band allocation taking the juiciest slice of 51% out of the total revenue.
Network slicing is the carriers’ bold response to the challenge of creating and managing a network, which would satisfy the demands of a large number of users. Every logical network is built to cater to a specific business purpose; thus, it offers the necessary degree of system customization along with the independence of resources and functionality for particular services in each, states  . So how does 5G work?
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.
- Edge computing.
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 an 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 the 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
As per  , 57% of surveyed companies are already implementing advanced wireless technologies, including 5G and Wi-Fi 6, while 37% plan to adopt them in the near future. This should come as no surprise, considering the potential revenue gains – the industrial IoT (IIoT) market will skyrocket to   hike by 2027.
In the manufacturing industry, several million 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 stop being a problem. A connected assembly line can be created with non-hardwired, mobile robots operating alongside 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 delivery, 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.
According to  , the most popular use cases of 5G-powered IoT will be:
- Enhancing critical applications: 5G will enable real-time communication at smart factories, precise control of automated guided vehicles (AGV) or portable warehouse robots, and live video with AI for quality control purposes.
- Tracking assets: the data sent frequently bit by bit and saved in the cloud can help monitor and optimize such things as water usage, parking situation around the city, and condition of temperature-sensitive goods in transit e.g. fruit.
- Connecting legacy equipment: seamlessly linking cloud and an object through 5G, businesses will be able to convert assets in cafes, bars, restaurants, and buildings into smart devices to enhance operational efficiency.
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.
5G network slicing is  . It splits the 5G network into logically separated networks, with each of them being a building block. Furthermore, 5G network slicing enables the power grid to change specific slices easily with different network functionality and different Service Level Agreement. In January 2021, Europe launched a 10 million USD project that applies 5G technology to the energy sector.
So-called   targets to institute 4 basic functions of contemporary smart grids:
- automatic detection of power distribution grid flaws
- remote check of automatically limited working zones at the distribution level
- clear-cut distribution generation control (up to milliseconds)
- real-time monitoring of vast areas in cross-border setting.
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 asset 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. However, the Japanese automotive giant  , for example, is to introduce semi-autonomous vehicles towards the end of 2021. By 2022,   shipped by OEMs will come equipped with smart telematics and other connectivity systems, harnessing the advantages of 5G.
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 taking over that chore from human teams. The advantages of the 5G technology 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 organizations are already heavily investing in support of the 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 the form of driving instructions. These exchanges will need to happen within milliseconds to ensure a smooth and safe driving experience. The features of the 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   – 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.
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 and   of people living in urban areas these days, 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. In the UK, for example,   and are working on several wireless transformation initiatives, where 5G serves as a catalyst. Their collective projects include:
-   with intelligent real-time monitoring and rendering of street photos in Birmingham.
-   and system monitoring in real-time with high-capacity and speed, low-latency 5G.
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 traffic management and electrical grids alone can generate approximately   in benefits and savings for municipalities.
predicts that in a 10-year span, the benefits of 5G will translate into an extra 1.4-1.7 trillion USD to the US GDP, creating additional 3.8-4.6 million jobs for Americans.
What kind of solutions can 5G enable in cities?
- Smart streetlights. A connected system that will manage the schedule of the streetlights, 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 video cameras and/or gunshot detection sensors 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 save cities   by 2025, lowering every driver’s time spent in traffic by more than 33 hours a year.
- 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. On average, the US citizens had access to 2.27 mobile phones, 2.21 computers, and 1.58 smart TVs  , leaving more room for 5G to accelerate.
mMTC, powered by 5G, can bring a vast range of new IoT features to 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 a 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.
Telemedicine. This market is expected to change from  . More and more healthcare providers have telemedicine programs underway, backed by government initiatives. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in times of social distancing, telemedicine comes as a lifeboat: comparing to 2019, the niche saw a   in online appointments at the end of March 2020.
Beyond that, telemedicine can improve access to healthcare in 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 of utmost importance. 5G can enable better connectivity on-the-go and allow paramedics to dispatch critical patient data, such as high-resolution images and 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 by   in the next five years.
At-home monitoring devices can be also deployed to monitor the patients’ 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, the usage of remote monitoring technology 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.
7. Edge Computing
5G technology and edge computing complement each other and become intertwined. The reason for such a tight connection is that both are designed to improve different applications performance significantly and fuel the real-time management of large amounts of data. 5G works on the speed front of a network, while edge computing lowers latency and brings computing capabilities closer to the end-users.
calls the duet of 5G and edge computing a ‘force multiplayer’ for its many use cases that are not limited to:
- Near real-time   monitoring and control with instant notifications
- End-to-end   and operations
- Enhanced   and quality control in logistics
- Improved product and process output
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 is still a long road ahead to widespread usage. Here’s what holding 5G aback:
lists a long list of bottlenecks hindering a quick adoption of 5G, naming compatibility with 4G and other existing services and orchestration of multiple cloud implementation as top challenges. For instance, to streamline the roll-out of some 5G functionality, 5G components have been built to sync with existing 4G/LTE elements or even independent telco-managed networks. However, recent 4G/LTE hardware can support 5G only following either of the two scenarios: a software upgrade or a minor hardware upgrade at the base system, notes   (GAO) in the US. Here are a few more challenges for 5G adoption:
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. The insufficiency of the mid-band spectrum is a key challenge to deploying 5G. The need for it is higher than its supply. Therefore, it might be complicated to unveil the full potential of 5G with an inadequate supply of mid-band and high-band spectrums, suggests  .
2. The cost factor.
Although investment influx in 5G was lower in 2020 because of the ongoing pandemic (Japan and Greater China apart), communication service providers (CSPs) globally are picking up the pace to create 5G as a platform and network,” states  . CSPs will step-by-step complement existing stand-alone capabilities with their non-stand-alone 5G networks, and the source forecasts that 15% of all the carriers will replace 4G network infrastructure with 5G alternative by 2023. 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. Whether the privacy of user data will receive the necessary protection is a pressing matter for further 5G adoption. The reason behind this concern is the absence of all-encompassing regulations at the federal level, dealing with privacy demands for non-federal companies, adds  .
The worldwide 5G security industry is to add   from 2020 to 2026, which will amount to 5,226 million USD in 5 years from now. The reasons for the market growth are potential security threats in 5G networks, increasing attacks on core infrastructure, and ransomware incidents with IoT components, while a growing number of IoT connectivity require mMTC with improved security necessity.
Small and medium-sized enterprises will not be quick to embrace 5G security solutions because of their high costs though. Still, the DDoS protection sector will accelerate the most, since not having such solutions in place might heavily impact business integrity, the availability of resources, and confidentiality that might cause billions in losses for companies.
Such Asian forerunners as China, Singapore, and Japan, for instance, already have a well-defined technological ecosystem that can support the promotion and further advancement of 5G security solutions, covering all industrial domains.
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.