What does 5G mean for the IoT future?

Today, 5G and IoT, or the fifth generation of mobile technology and the internet of things (IoT) respectively, are considered to be two macro technology changes that are quickly transforming from visions that are aspirational to practical applications. What is 5G?
5G IoT: Unlimited connectivity
Essentially, it is an upgraded version of 4G, and its download speed is 2.7 times faster than 4G. Thus, it is capable of sending data both to and from about a million devices per square kilometer. On the other hand, this number is reduced to 100,000 devices when it comes to 4G networks. When 5G is applied to augment industrial sensors, wearables, medical devices, and vehicles, the services offered by businesses and governments will be unprecedented.

It is estimated that by 2025 the total installed base of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices will constitute 30.9 billion units globally. It is also forecasted that IoT devices will result in the creation of over 50%of the global data by 2025, according to IDC.

Today, IoT devices use a host of wireless technologies, such as short-range technologies, generally leveraging unlicensed spectrum, including WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Z-wave, along with wide-area cellular technologies, which use licensed spectrum, including GSM, LTE, and 5G. 

There are many estimated improvements that 5G will create, including: 
  • Decrease in latency (i.e., response time) facilitating real-time communication;
  • Better transfer of data, particularly upstream speeds
  • Improved network reliability.

When this unparalleled potential is tapped, it can create an array of unimaginable solutions.
5G IoT improvements
The three main usage scenarios for 5G
The International Telecommunications Union has defined three primary key application scenarios, which include ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), and massive machine-type communications (mMTC).

  • Ultra-reliable low latency communications involve several features that are useful in the case of new applications with strict reliability, as well as latency criteria, including augmented/virtual reality, industrial automation, and autonomous vehicles. URLLC is crucial when it comes to IoT use cases in enterprises and the consumer sector for smart city and smart home applications. It makes sure that the network’s latency is low and the reliability is high. Moreover, it is sometimes used in life-or-death situations, which includes executing remote surgeries using robots or leveraging autonomous vehicles.

  • Enhanced mobile broadband is meant to handle a large amount of data over expansive areas with low latency. With eMBB, novel experiences that are driven by data are facilitated, which require high data rates, causing a quicker and better user experience. This is meant to guarantee optimal coverage in public spaces that are densely populated, such as stadiums during sporting events, along with completely immersive VR. This can be useful in terms of business applications, too, facilitating data transfer at high speed in smart offices. It is also useful in the case of virtual meetings and interpreting in real-time over long-distance.

  • Massive machine-type communications facilitate connections to many devices that transfer small traffic amounts intermittently. This is especially important in the context of the “smart” devices that are a part of huge networks: smart cities, smart factories, etc., enhancing their efficiency. mMTC creates an opportunity for the expansion of IoT from restricted consumer use to an amenity that is general or infrastructural, which is used by both the business sector and public sector organizations. mMTC can significantly affect everyday living for large populations through the establishment of ‘smart’ cities, wherein a society that is completely networked is created by the Internet of Everything (IoE).

The three main usage scenarios for 5G - Ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)
Where 5G can help IoT: applications and use cases
Manufacturing
With 5G, new capabilities emerge along with the flexibility of delivering the particular requirements of various customers of enterprises which, according to the GSMA, could be worth approximately US$400 billion per year to operators by the year 2025.

Since 5G supports low latency, companies can augment manufacturing processes in factories through the increased use of robotics and vehicles that are automated. With the manufacturing design, as well as maintenance products, augmented virtual reality (VR) capabilities can be created, resulting in many accessory products and services.

  • Since wired connections are costly and not flexible, connecting several devices wirelessly in a secure manner for a lesser cost can allow machines to be controlled virtually with low latency 5G connectivity, ensuring cost-effectiveness since each floor requires fewer CPUs.
  • Real-time information exchange between several interconnected devices. The information can be transmitted in real-time using cloud computing, eMBB, and mMTC.
  • For special functions, entities can reserve network slices.
Smart cities
Your city’s quality of life can be enhanced by transforming traffic system congestion, public transit, and public safety:

  • For police, connected vehicles are associated with traffic lights. 
  • Some public services can be completely digitized. For instance, police officers who own smartphones will be able to transmit voice and video feeds of high quality from crime scenes. 
  • Smart city management. For instance, airy quality monitors across the city for advising the public regarding possible hazards.
  • Network slicing for better security and reliability concerning mission-critical services.
Agriculture
  • Crops are autonomously surveyed by drones with the help of visual analytics for evaluating various parameters such as rates of growth and pest losses. With this information, farmers can enhance harvest time and target specific areas more efficiently with effective interventions.
  • With 5G, wireless sensors can track conditions of the field and recognize the time at which crops require watering, pesticides, or fertilizer.
  • It can also assist in tracking livestock and directing agricultural drones as well as automatic tractors.
Shipping and logistics
  • With 5G, organizations will be able to monitor their valuable cargo through the optimization of coverage in various regions that were previously known as “dead-zones” and were unreachable.
  • The 5G network implementation will enable technologies such as enhanced virtual reality (VR) to facilitate on-the-road backup (and other assists). Vehicles can become compatible with augmented reality (AR) for enhanced endpoint recognition, increasing the driver’s safety.
  • 5G is crucial to create a completely functional and automated fleet. Vehicles must immediately interact with each other for optimizing safety and ensuring proper awareness of other traffic, road conditions, and more.
Healthcare
  • It is possible to train junior doctors for surgery with the help of AR/VR that operates with low latency and high bandwidth 5G. 
  • In operating theaters, hospitals can substitute wired connections with wireless connections of low latency and high security, enabled by 5G. 
  • Augmentation of remote real-time diagnostics with the help of high-quality video delivered via 5G.
  • Using robots to dispense pharmaceuticals, work with diagnostics and eventually perform surgery, as 5G provides the required low latency along with optimal bandwidth connectivity. 
  • Patient prioritization is enabled by data analytics associated with medical records, including CT scans.
Final thoughts
5G IoT can facilitate Industry 4.0 at a quick pace and will play a crucial role in the transformation process. Your sector may be already a part of this new revolution. Lastly, the 5G network is designed in a way that it services IoT use cases immediately, enabling modern pricing models and better adoption of wireless connectivity in various IoT applications.
Currently, we just possess a surface-level comprehension of the potential of 5G and Edge computing when it comes to revolutionizing the world.
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