5G has impressive attributes like low latency, high data rates, reduced energy use, and cost savings, capable of bringing in a digital revolution across industries.
While 5G has been discussed over the years, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a collaboration between telecommunications associations, didn’t formalize standards until the end of December 2017. Before that, various telecom service providers and vendors conducted pilots and trials, but these were based on multiple flavors of enhancements to 4G.
Without a set of standards governing the industry, different groups were doing different things. With the ratification of 5G non-standalone standards, enterprises are now working on the same technologies. 5G technology has evolved in the form of waves where one development followed by another improved version of the technology.
When providers say they will launch 5G this year, essentially, they’ll be leveraging existing networks quickly through software upgrades. The U.S. started with live 5G networks, but 5G has been deployed in operational networks based on commercial equipment in Australia, Europe, and Asia as well. Now industries have seen the first wave of commercialized 5G networks with the tier-one operators launching 5G, offering pure standalone 5G networks in 2020.
What sets 5G apart is its ability to act as an intelligent connectivity platform, providing system capacity and massive device connectivity. Soon, 5G will enable many new products and services to be delivered that otherwise wouldn’t be feasible. For consumers, 5G is supporting the entire smart home supported by its slew of connected products, enhanced with augmented reality(AR).
But the most significant leverage that it will allow will be in the enterprise space. It will enable new use cases associated with “Industry 4.0,” and IoT. Critical IoT deployment requires 5G for connectivity to be super-fast and highly reliable. These applications could include real-time control of remote operations or autonomous vehicles where no latency can be tolerated.
Broadband IoT provides much lower latencies and higher data rates than massive IIoT while utilizing functionalities related to machine-type communications for extending coverage and increasing the device battery life. This segment is delivering a broad range of growing use cases in drones, automotive, advanced wearables, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) devices.
Industrial automation IoT covers solutions primarily designed for the manufacturing sector. These manufacturing industry solutions have extremely demanding connectivity requirements that need very accurate indoor positioning, security attributes, and distinct architecture. Industrial automation IoT using private cellular networks is the critical enabler for the full digitalization of Industry 4.0 for the world’s manufacturers.
With the advent of 5G, the business models of telecom providers and enterprises will undergo a digital transformation. Telecom providers will need to evolve to take up more-challenging roles higher up the value chain beyond connectivity to assist enterprises in managing the entire lifecycle of connected devices and the data generated by these devices. Enterprises, meanwhile, will witness 5G opening new doors to services and product innovation, creating new customer segments and revenue streams.
Service providers are exploring new business models exploring 5G to allow them to introduce innovative services to their customers. The 5G evolution will witness continuous evolution and growth in the future, looking at the revolution it has brought in.