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What will the rollout of 5G mean for IoT development and engineers?


19th October - Valencia.

Welcome to the rollout of 5G!

Greater connectivity and more telecom geopolitics!

There is a lot of buzz, excitement and hype around the possibilities of 5G.

However the road to introduction has not been an easy one and there are still obstacles in its way.

Its development promises to open-up some ground-breaking opportunities in Internet of Things (IoT) which will ultimately provide a real transformation in transport, agriculture, education, public services, smart factories, smart cities, healthcare and more, changing business models and our lives in unimaginable ways.

The key deliverables of 5G

5G is important to IoT because of the need for a faster network with higher capacity that can serve connectivity needs. The 5G Spectrum expands the frequencies on which digital cellular technologies will transfer data. This wider spectrum available for use increases the overall bandwidth of cellular networks, allowing for additional devices to connect.

The new standard will bring greater speed of download (50x higher than 4G) at a lower latency (transit time being a tenth of the time for 4G) and there will be a possibility to connect a greater number of devices (x10) at the same time (Density) without the risk of disruption or interference.

Moreover enterprises see that with 5G they will be able to unlock a previously hidden competitive advantage by speeding up their internal networks and responses to advance their capabilities and IoT usage to move ahead of the competition and progress further growth.

The role of ‘Network slicing’ and rise of ‘Telematics’

A key 5G reliability feature, called "network slicing," guarantees reception, so connections don’t break down. Slicing can guarantee a wireless connection to an autonomous car driving through an area with network congestion.

Compared to 4G, 5G handles these smaller packets of data to enabling machine-to-machine communication with real-time exchange of data between devices and sensors allowing the right speed, density and latency for whatever need and can be made flexibly configured to that need. Forward thinking companies are already far ahead in developing a raft of IoT uses for this feature. For example, autonomous self-driving car technology needs high signal frequency and speed, low latency and low interference to manage and monitor highly accurate manoeuvers and therefore requires this type of connectivity to develop.

According to 5G Network provider Verizon The impact of 5G-enabled IoT on global business will be measured in trillion-dollar increments. “By 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide.

They claim one of the richest application areas for this technology is the IoT-related field of telematics—the transmission of information to and from remote objects such as vehicles and fleets.

Having had its origins fast streaming and data collection for areas such as home appliances, video streaming, AR/VR, wearables, fitness applications, virtual assistants where connectivity of devices and fast speed of download have become a necessity, 5G will also herald the increased of use of IoT into the industrial domain under the name of IIoT.

A different set of applications will open up to take advantage of opportunities in smart cities, manufacturing, aerospace, transportation, healthcare, agriculture and other physical industries.

Growth in IoT Healthcare uses

In a recent whitepaper, Splunk predicted healthcare will be transformed by 5G. Machine type communications will be used to monitor patients via massive sensor networks, to power smart pills that can record drug ingestion, and to monitor care for insurers. Ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) will power telemedicine, remote recovery, augmented reality physical therapy and even remote surgery. Augmented reality and virtual reality will also be used for training in other fields, and will increasingly be used in shopping and retail, letting customers view properties and try on clothes virtually.

As a result local 5G networks are expected to emerge to serve different vertical sectors specific requirements. These networks can be deployed by traditional mobile network operators or entrant local operators. However with such a large number of verticals with different service requirements, network slicing using 5G micro-operator networks will be key to efficiently and economically serve multiple verticals and their tenants with different network requirements.

And possible risks?

The worry is that as IoT moves into an Industrial domain, devices may often lack solid security design, and there’s an inherent risk in creating new, connected 5G networks that could expose sensitive information. Organizations will need to take a layered approach to security that covers these gaps. End-to-end security will be critical in protecting communication paths between devices, users and the core network.

What it means for engineers

It means is that there are likely to be plenty of opportunities for engineers in IoT and additionally, the associated services in Edge computing now and in the future.

As 5G is a carrier technology which has been in development for over 10 years, engineers as such, will not need to update or completely revise their skills. However, with the launch, carriers are chomping at the bit to deliver new types of potentially high profit margin services and IOT services. Many of these services are being enabled by new edge computing (that is, computer components and software built into things like cellular radio towers that sit at the “edge” of the network) and other capabilities that the latest network infrastructure equipment is starting to incorporate. Base stations in and outside cell towers are being loaded with faster electronics and algorithms to handle AI, network management, and other edge tasks, that eases the network load and provides intelligent services as data moves from one point to another along the network.

A focus on software and microservices will be crucial to deliver on the promise of 5G, and they should be integral in any 5G service. It will no longer be acceptable for network engineers to program every device through a command-line interface (CLI). The complexity will require software-defined programmability, orchestration and automation and skills for routing, switching, radio connectivity, virtualisation and engineering specialism for safety and security.

It may seem a tall order to find engineers who have the right experience and skills but help is at hand to guide companies and embrace the opportunities to 5G and IoT. Companies such as CIS have been helping organisations build the network structure and IoT development to take advantage of the roll-out over at least the past 10 years through the provision of highly skilled engineers who are at the forefront of new technologies.

So to make sure you have your 5G network or IoT development needs covered, contact Chloé Azar on chloea@cis-ee.com or call +34 960 038 630.