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5G and Massive IoT

Countries across the world are rallying behind 5G connectivity and its implementation. Is it worth the hype? 5G promises a revolutionary leap for wireless technology. Verizon claims the best efficient 5G networks could bring speeds up to 200 times faster than the current 4G-LTE. A more conservative estimate around 10 times that of 4G is more realistic and latency from 10ms (4G) to about 1ms ping which is almost instant to the observer’s eye.

5G technology by employing millimeter waves when compared to microwaves in previous generations have a much wider bandwidth than 4G-LTE. Combining this with Edge computing will make many technologies a reality in today’s world which will affect all sorts of verticals in the Healthcare, telecommunications, Education, Banking and Manufacturing industries. In this blog let’s evaluate how 5G can bring about a transformation in IoT and manufacturing domains.

5G has the ability to improve the IoT and manufacturing sectors.

What is Massive IoT?

IoT today spans different industries such as healthcare (remote monitoring), sports, agriculture, manufacturing (connected devices and sensors) and so on. With 5G capable smart devices, it will be possible to transfer more data with shorter latency thereby resulting in exciting new use cases such as Massive IoT on the scale.

Massive IoT as the name suggests is categorized by its scale rather than speed as the deployments can include anywhere between hundreds to millions or even billions of interconnected devices. The primary goal here is to communicate using small chunks of data between a vast number of devices. The verticals that would benefit from this are wearables, smart cars, smart homes, cities and Industrial IoT (IIoT).

Existing IoT devices and gateways are well served by 4G-LTE, Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) or 3G wireless networks. Due to this, the devices and sensors are configured in a way to process and take decisions at the edge rather than sending the data to Cloud or external network for exceptionally large computational processes. IoT networks today are designed explicitly to only send noncritical data to clouds for analytics and critical data is processed on the edge. While this can be beneficial, it restricts the data set that can be processed on the edge. For example, High-Resolution WebCam image recognition using AI is not feasible on the cloud due to data transmission latency and performing this on the edge requires an expensive gateway and camera.

There are many such trade-offs that we can overcome by utilizing a 5G network for IoT data transmission between the Cloud and gateway. Below are some of the use cases which are possible today due to 5G Networks combined with IoT.

  • Fully Autonomous Cars: Today, we have autonomous cars like Tesla, Cruise & Waymo which have many sensors like LIDAR, SONAR, cameras and various sensors. But they are all limited to the data that can be shared to the cloud or operating points within the city and the data that can be processed within the vehicle. Now if there is a large fleet of cars, the data set becomes hard to manage and process even on the cloud. 5G can be a catalyst in this scenario where every operating station in the city and the vehicles are equipped with 5G antennas and now the vehicles can share and process larger bandwidth of data at lower latencies.
  • Remote Surgical operations: Surgeons in China performed a remote surgery using specialized equipment on a Parkinson’s patient 1900 miles away. The latency between the remote surgical equipment and the doctor’s location was around 2ms. This means that the doctors could react as fast as they would if they were in the operation theatre with the patient.
  • Industrial Wireless 5G Ethernet: Currently large industrial and manufacturing plants employ precision-controlled robotics, conveyor belts, tags for asset tracking and various other components, all of which need wired or wireless connection to send and process data. Combining such a complex network with IoT Devices and sensors will increase the management and operational cost and they usually have wired connections to transfer large data with minimal latency. With 5G wireless Ethernet and URLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication) that Qualcomm is developing, such Industries can get rid of all wired connections and employ wireless 5G Transmitters and Receivers for Advanced robotics and assets in the manufacturing area and seamlessly communicate with each other over private low latency Wireless ethernet. A leading Smartphone manufacturer in China has completely done away with manual Quality assurance by installing AI-enabled Smart cameras connected to a 5G Network which checks along the assembly lines for defective smartphone spare parts.
  • Smart Cities & Energy Efficiency: With 5G connectivity, all public services such as Traffic lights, police vehicles and communication, streetlights and public CCTV cameras can send quality data. Police officers can quickly capture high-quality crime scenes or chase video feed to the station. Additionally, now that the data is transmitted or processed with lower latency, the amount of power consumption drastically reduces. Qualcomm and Huawei estimate about a 20% reduction of fossil fuel energy sources with the rapid adaptation of 5G Connectivity across the world and increases the usage of renewable sources of energy which is beneficial for the entire planet eventually.

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