How 5G can open new frontiers in industrial internet and mobile connectivity
The smart city infrastructure of Hangzhou, the capital of the Zhejiang province proves that it is one of the dominant technology hubs in China. In this city, the police department gets a notice automatically when a fatal accident occurs. The traffic lights make use of artificial intelligence to adjust to the volume of traffic on the road. Moreover, the traffic lights are smart enough to give a free pass to fire trucks and ambulances on the streets of the city.
All these innovations were steered by the technology-driven urban traffic management project called the Hangzhou’s City Brain project. The project prerogative covers 420 square kilometers which is equivalent to about seven times the landmass of Manhattan Island in New York City.
The smart infrastructure at Hangzhou is just the tip of the iceberg. When the 5G technology starts rolling out by 2020, industries will be able to realize the full potentials of the Internet of Things (IoT). The consequence is that more smart cities will emerge across the world and cities like Hangzhou will become smarter!
Cui Kai who is an IoT analyst with a technology research firm called IDC made a compelling disclosure while explaining the impacts of the 5G wireless technology. He said that 2G to 3G to 4G was designed to serve people, but the inception, 5G has focused on the IoT.
IoT is the technology that can power the hypothetical self-configurable, adaptive, and advanced network that interconnects objects. These objects have embedded programs that makes them aware of their environment, they can collate information and transmit them by interacting with mobile applications or servers.
Industries around the world have a lot to gain. It's not surprising that a recent forecast by IDC placed the spending on IoT at one trillion USD by 2022. The previous forecast figure in 2018 was US$745. This increase in the forecast figure shows that the adoption of IoT is spreading like wildfire among consumers, across industries verticals, and the public sector.
Industries can now make good use of their business data to gain actionable insight into business processes to save costs and operate more efficiently. Moreover, consumers also have access to valuable data about their health, fitness, and possessions. They can even control how their household appliances function from a remote location outside their home.
In a recent report, Carrie MacGillivray who is the vice president of IoT and mobility at IDC hinted that the next chapter of IoT is just about to start. He added that the digital-enabled devices will soon begin to automate and enhance the experience of humans like never before.
This elevated experience will soon become a reality as the 5G network starts to roll out across the globe. The peak speed of 5G is 20 times faster than 4G. This super speed allows 5G to serve as the backbone for IoT, smart cities, modern mobile applications, and the industrial internet.
Down to the consumers, the experience with internet will be heightened like never before. For instance, it will be possible to send a high-resolution 4K video over the internet in just a matter of seconds. The video games and apps that use augmented and virtual reality will function flawlessly. A massive number of devices such as phones, watches, televisions, and other electronic devices are getting connected every day, A network with the capacity of 5G is needed to support these ever-increasing number of smart devices.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations agency that oversees the development of the “IMT 2020” global standard for 5G made an interesting statement worth mentioning. It affirmed that this new wireless technology will be robust enough to support up to one million connected devices per square kilometer, and the latency will be one millisecond. The technology will also be able to use energy and radio spectrum more efficiently. Perhaps the best part is that the peak download rate can be up to 20 gigabits (2,500 megabytes) per second.
The operations of the ITU is in tandem with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a convergence of seven different telecom standard development organizations that approved the global specifications for the 5G technology. Many of the largest telecom operators in the world have commenced the initial steps required to deploy 5G technology.
The 5G technology solves the issue of latency which has been the bane of many IoT applications. For the Skype user, latency is the time it takes to hear the user at the other end of the line. The latency of the 5G network will be lesser than the 50 milliseconds time lag of 4G networks. This fast turnaround is essential for IoT operations that require real-time responses such as remote surgery.
According to state media, China attained the record as the first nation to conduct remote surgery with the use of robots in March 2019. The operation was supported by 5G network deployed by China mobile using the equipment supplied by Huawei Technologies. The surgery process involves the implantation of a neurostimulator device into the brain of a patient with Parkinson’s disease. The surgeon who was 3,000 kilometers away performed the surgery with the use of a remotely controlled robotic hand. In the future, remote surgery will enhance collaboration between medical practitioners in different continents of the world.
The low latency will also play a vital role in making autonomous vehicles function flawlessly. Self-driving cars gather information about the current road and traffic conditions with the use of sensors. It then sends this information to its internal processor or remote server to make instant decisions.
The military will also benefit immensely from the enhanced communication between machines. The 5G network can help soldiers in field operations maintain critical contact through smartwatches at locations where satellite communication is not accessible.
Winson Chow, one of the leaders at PwC said that a 4G network can handle 100 devices communicating with each other at a 500 meters radius, but 5G can support more devices while still using the same protocol.
The industrial sector and its tightly knitted supply chain industry have a lot to gain with 5G. For instance, the new technology can take the already robot-engineered car assembly plants to a whole new level. The 5G technology can allow the lead engineer at the headquarters to monitor various assembly plants at different locations in the world concurrently and in real-time. All that will be required is to install chips in fast-moving machineries such as robotic arms and conveyor belts.
The duo of Ericsson, the Swedish telecom giant and China Unicom recently demonstrated the 5G powered automation project at the Port of Qingdao, located in the Shandong province. This project will lead to a reduction in labor cost by up to 70% at this port which is one of the busiest container terminals in the world.
Chow also gave insight about the relevance of the 5G technology when he claimed that manufacturing plants, distributors and retailers will enjoy improved workflow. The collation, processing and analyzing of information from various terminals in real time will become possible with 5G.
On the part of the consumers, 5G will lead to the proliferation and increased efficiency of smart home devices and other advanced appliances that make use of the internet. This fact is further reinforced by data from Dun and Bradstreet that projected that there will be more than 1.5 billion smart electronics devices by the end of 2010. As the number of smart appliances increases, more families will be able to convert their houses to smart homes. So, the data from ABI Research that projected 300 million smart homes around the world by 2022 makes sense.
As the 5G technology is becoming real by the day, technology giants are bracing up to take advantage of it. For instance, companies like Google, Apple, Xiaomi, and Amazon are planning to launch more smart appliances such as cookers, air conditioners, speakers, and many others that can be controlled from smartphone apps. When 5G is fully launched uniform network connectivity, and energy saving will be accomplished when all these devices are connected to the internet.
Werner Vogels who is the chief technology officer at Amazon stated in an interview that data limitation will no longer be a problem for the users of 5G technology. As a result, every device can be connected online, even your wall clock! Vogels concluded.
China which is the world’s largest smartphone market and the nation with the largest Internet population will benefit immensely from the increased IoT adoption that comes with 5G. A reliable source from PwC claims that even the government and telecom service providers are encouraging 5G data consumption.
With all these development Alibaba-backed Hangzhou’s City Brain will be able to process the vast amount of data from its many IoT units, and also extend its smart city project to new sectors. Even sensors can be installed in underground pipes to detect leakages in real-time and with a high level of accuracy.
IDC analyst, Cui was emphatic when he claimed that everything can be connected through the internet. He said that once the data from the device is of value, it makes sense to connect it to the internet.
In spite of the vast potential of 5G technology, one will be concerned about the security consequences of the ability to gather an enormous amount of data within a short time. For instance, Chinese law mandates that Internet Service providers in China store user data on local servers. More so, state authorities can have access to inspect the assets when the need arises.
Come to think of it, China has over 200 million surveillance cameras which translate to one camera for every seven people. Now, combine that with the new 5G technology, and the increasing number of smart devices such as smart meters! A situation where the smart meter can be used to monitor if a person is at homes raises concerns about security and privacy.
Cho from PwC says he envisages a future where China will turn the whole nation to a smart country when the 5G technology is finally rolled out!Source