5G’s arrival at the end of this decade will mean faster service and highly reliable networks for the Internet of Things (IoT). Just as 2G and 3G popularized widespread smartphone use for consumers, 5G stands to encourage cities, hospitals, and industrial leaders to push the boundaries with new IoT applications.
Applications that weren't possible on higher latency networks suddenly will be within reach, creating a world of data-rich uses ranging from autonomous cars to virtual reality. Even remote medicine and drone technology stand to benefit from 5G implementation.
In anticipation of this new world of data, Aeris recently sponsored a webinar titled, “Inserting the IoT into LTE and 5G”. You can view that webinar online for free, but we wanted to take this opportunity to answer some attendee questions in greater depth.
- Does the cellular industry expect pushback of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and associated power equipment installations by cities to support 5G IoT?
Many cities have invested heavily in DAS in recent years to support faster communication, and there may be some reluctance for municipalities to reinvest in yet another connectivity platform. Even so, cities around the world already are adopting cellular networks for their improved versatility. The IoT applications for city services are almost limitless, but wireless connectivity can only take a city so far. By contrast, 5G connectivity will provide better, faster, and cheaper service to link people, places, and services.
Additionally, as IoT equipment becomes more agile, nimble, and rugged, the ability to deploy the technology grows. With better technology comes the need for faster service, and the new technology’s efficacy should help reduce pushback for 5G adoption as the need for greater connectivity becomes clear.
While most urban applications of IoT already can be achieved on a 4G network, LTE’s current push for wider adoption, and the eventual arrival of 5G, will challenge the hardware world to create still smaller and better technologies and likely lower the cost of other cellular network options.
In the private sector, wide-scale adoption of 5G may be slower as many hospitals, hotels, and other service-based organizations already have deployed extensive wireless infrastructures for basic IoT applications. However, early adopters of 5G should set a positive tone for integration, and eventually 5G IoT will become the gold standard for connectivity across public, private, and industrial sectors that require instant connectivity with minimal fracturing.
- Will 5G IoT have any impact on smartphone use?
Cellular IoT already is a booming industry, but it seems unlikely that 5G will be needed by consumers immediately. 4G already is excellent for sending and receiving most information from an IoT network, and consumer use is well supported. In fact, Aeris already offers network customers the chance to link their IoT systems with their personal cellular devices, and the eventual adoption of 5G by consumers won’t change this or necessitate the immediate purchase of a new suite of technologies.
- Will 5G leverage any of the Radio Access Network (RAN) or core components of 4G?
It’s still too early to say for sure what 5G will achieve, but all signs point to 5G incorporating 4G and its components and then taking things further. Because many applications will never need 5G connectivity, it would not make sense to see a wholesale replacement of RAN or core components of 4G right away. For example, many farmers around the country use cellular IoT to maintain proper irrigation and monitor weather because cellular platforms are user friendly, easy to maintain, and have wide reach across large geographic areas. Even so, agricultural applications of IoT are not speed dependent, and it is unlikely that the increased speed and data capacity of 5G would be needed.
In looking ahead to 5G, it may be helpful to think of 5G as an additive force rather than a sweeping replacement for existing technology.
- Will 5G “take over” when it arrives and what role will it play in IoT markets?
5G networks are unlikely to totally take over the cellular market. Applications that function on 4G right now will continue to do so while 5G goes forward to support new applications. In this sense, 5G and 4G will coexist, and providers will continue service to older plans so long as they are stable and useful.
For day-to-day use, expect to see 4G and LTE stick around until at least 2035. 5G will leverage many network assets already in place, but it’s important to remember that not every application will need the low latency seen with 5G.
So where will 5G come into play? Autonomous driving applications are almost certain to adopt 5G as soon as it is released, allowing for instant vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Likewise, drones with non-line-of-sight command and control will need 5G to reach their full potential. For example, 5G will enable instant haptic feedback, creating an intuitive and realistic flight experience that is safer for both the drone and humans on the ground. Additional applications may include everything from a tactile internet to fully-immersive virtual reality and sharper augmented reality.
While augmented reality has clear implications for construction and industrial use, allowing workers to see what work needs to be done before completing it, virtual reality applications could include anything from digital travel to safe and ethical remote surgery.
- What are the applications that drive the fastest growth in long-range IoT?
Growth in cellular network platforms for IoT has been phenomenal over the past few years, with industries across markets adopting long-range applications to better order and control resources.
Thus far, asset tracking and automated enterprise buildings have set the pace for newer, better technologies in IoT. However, the healthcare industry is by far the fastest point of growth in cellular IoT today. While hospitals and other health centers have relied on Ethernet and Wi-Fi in the past, many medical providers found these platforms lacking in versatility. The healthcare industry’s transition to cellular IoT is reshaping the way all industries think about IoT.
Whether your organization is looking ahead to 5G adoption or wants to get on board with an existing 4G network, Aeris offers cellular network solutions for every application. We work closely with our customers to create IoT networks, shape deployment, and can even act as a consultant to help you identify the right technologies to add to your network. Check out our Inserting the IoT into LTE and 5G Webinar to learn more about our commitment to flexible networks that put you in charge and then contact Aeris to plan your network.