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What will drive the 5G revolution?

September 20, 2018

Tim Sherwood   

Vice-President – Business Development, Mobility & IoT Solutions, Tata Communications.

The mobile device explosion of the last decade has changed the way we operate in our personal and professional lives. But the truth is, we’ve experienced just a small sliver of what is possible in our highly connected world. More growth and change are coming, and quickly.

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2023 there will be a staggering 9.1 billion mobile subscriptions. And, according to Cisco, by 2020 connected mobile devices will produce 30.6 Exabytes per month and annual global mobile data traffic will reach 366.8 Exabytes.

To meet the demand for collection, transport, storage and analysis of all this data, telecom providers are busy building digital infrastructure to enable the ever-growing information economy. With regards to transporting larger amounts of data at high speed with low latency, the latest telco investments are focused on building 5G networks.

The leap in quality from 4G to 5G could be huge, and much more significant than the jump from 3G to 4G. To illustrate the difference, consider that currently, 4G LTE transfer speeds top out at about one gigabit per second. That means it takes about one hour to download a short HD movie in perfect conditions. 5G will increase download speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. That means a full HD movie can be downloaded in a matter of seconds. It will also reduce latency significantly (giving people faster load times).

Wireless networks such as 5G will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the enterprise in the long-term while fixed networks will remain a necessity due to both bandwidth and security reasons. Having greater flexibility to scale networks up in regards to throughput size and speeds as well as scale down to support low-power, narrowband is a key requirement for Enterprises looking to efficiently deploy a wide variety of Enterprise Mobile and IOT use cases at scale across multiple operators and multiple locations around the world.

The enhanced speed and flexible connectivity of 5G networks will drive fundamental change and, in fact, will create entirely new approaches to businesses and business models.

For example, 5G networks will allow factories to cut cables to their machines and put more intelligence into both edge computing and the cloud. This will lead to cheaper robots, quicker change times and much more flexible production.  And the high speed of 5G will give machine operators real-time insights on the overall status of the project, and provide the opportunity to explore machine-learning and predictive maintenance, which reduce expensive downtime.

The impact of 5G on factories is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the speeds of 5G will reshape the world of the Internet of Things and mobile devices. While 4G revolutionized the smartphone experience, 5G will have an even bigger impact on other smart consumer “things” – such as autonomous vehicles. Everyone is talking about driverless cars and its impact on our lifestyle. Though still in the infancy stage, the autonomous vehicle network will heavily rely on net-gen mobile networks to handle the high levels of data across all areas – such as car diagnostics and journey details that will rely on real-time data to navigate around.

For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used to analyze the huge amount of data generated by driverless cars and the urban infrastructure that supports them, including smart road signs and traffic lights. Thanks to 5G, the insights gained could be used in new ways, such as reducing the amount of breakdowns and providing more detailed real-time traffic reports and air quality information.

We are at the beginning of a new era of global connectivity, with speeds we’ve never seen before.

The adoption of 5G is going to be critical to fully realize the vision of a mobile first, connected work force that will have optimal bandwidths at the mobile edge to support improved collaboration and communications.  We expect an explosion of more advanced IOT use cases that will consume greater bandwidth – particularly as we look to use cases which drive increasing interactions across different IOT endpoints and mobile end-users, leveraging augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine-learning.  All of these higher bandwidth use cases require a faster, more responsive “network on demand” in order to realize their full potential.

Read about how IoT and AI will connect here.