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What 5G Means for the Internet of Things

Even though the specifications of 5G remain unknown, the next generation of mobile technology is predicted to greatly benefit the Internet of Things (IoT).

5G is expected to provide:

  • Faster speeds — Nokia predicts network speeds as high as 10Gbps
  • Lowered latency
  • Network support for massive increases in data traffic
  • Expansion of cell sites

Enabling completely new applications while also benefitting many IoT applications, a 5G platform will impact many industries including automotive, entertainment, agriculture, manufacturing and IT.

Consider these few examples of the necessity of 5G progress:

  • Machine-to-machine communications, if stalled by connectivity issues, can lead to revenue lost due to production line slowdowns
  • A connected car traveling at 75 m/hr would travel over 10 feet further before applying the brakes if the system was experiencing a 100 millisecond delay
  • Augmented and virtual reality both rely on speed and low latency as they demand immediate interactivity
  • Connectivity predictions

Machina Research forecasts “IoT will account for one quarter of the global 41 million 5G connections in 2024.” Approximately ¾ of these will be in the auto industry via embedded vehicle connections.

Yet a wide range of applications will benefit from 5G’s ultra-fast networks and real-time responsiveness, such as:

  • massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) such as solar powered streetlights or other innovations to help citywide infrastructure
  • Device-to-device public safety communications that don’t need active cellular coverage
  • Real-time operations employing robotics to link surgeons with remote sites

The report also predicts 5G deployment will remain “highly concentrated” in Japan, Korea, Europe, China and North America (with Japan and Korea leading the charge).

The advent of 5G, then, will also help operators extend their opportunities in new markets.

5G and MNOs

Machine-to-machine and IoT innovation also demand shifts in overall architecture, such as a move to cognitive networks. Telcos will need on-demand, agile and programmable infrastructure, predicted Hossein Moiin, EVP and CTO, Nokia Networks.

5G will also take systems beyond radio to be cloud optimized and able to use big data analytics and artificial intelligence. At the same time, this evolution will require an eagle eye to security, looking at the entire chain to be sure all elements are secured.

Additionally the arrival of 5G will “surely make MNOs revisit their approach to 2G and 3G networks,” Hatton said. “With the impending addition of a fourth air interface, we would expect more MNOs to make the leap and switch off the older generations.”

An earlier Machina study predicted enterprises deploying multi-country solutions would switch off the earlier generations by 2020 (when full commercialization and global ratification of standards is expected).

Although not fully operational for four more years, test projects are already under way. Get ready. 5G is poised to make the Internet of Things much more efficient, it’s up to network providers to make sure connectivity is effective and secure.


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Case Study: IoT is redefining the customer experience. Nokia case study.

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