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Over the coming years 5G is set to fuel digital transformation globally, boosting industries and spurring innovation. As industry leading enterprises steadily turn to next-generation networks and IoT, people’s lives, business, and society will improve significantly.

Now is the right time to prepare for what lies ahead. To stay ahead of the competition, enterprises need to understand the implications of 5G and the opportunities it will bring to those who are best positioned to embrace IoT.

What are the benefits of 5G for IoT?

By connecting things enterprises can develop new or improve existing products, services, and business processes. From automotive to smart manufacturing and utilities, the role of IoT will grow in importance, transcending almost every industry. In addition, IoT will continue to benefit society by enabling implementation of government policy. For example, by enabling further control of electricity demand and fluctuating supply or minimizing waste of critical resources such as water. Today’s mobile networks, known as 2G, 3G and 4G, provide a strong foundation for connecting things. 2G, 3G and 4G were originally developed to enable personal communication and mobile broadband services. Still, they have also proven extremely capable for the demands of IoT, offering technical capabilities exceeding most existing use cases and with characteristics particularly well-suited to IoT.

For example, global standardization and coverage mean products and services can be scaled globally. Building on the scale of the mobile industry and billions of connected mobiles enables cost efficiency, reliability, security, and continuous development of devices, network technologies and service provider capabilities.

5G deployment and 5G rollout

At the same time 5G is now rapidly being deployed across the globe. With 5G, a mobile network generation has been designed for the first time from the ground up to support IoT use cases. 5G comes with dedicated capabilities tailored for various kinds of IoT applications, instead of having to adapt more general mobile communications that previous network generations resorted to.

5G and IoT

This will mean that entirely new IoT applications can be developed and continue to fuel the digital transformation journey, benefitting consumers, enterprises, and society.

In this white paper we will explore the journey towards a 5G enabled digital transformation. This journey will take some years as 5G networks and capabilities are gradually made available, while in parallel earlier network generations are retired. We will explore what we believe are the necessary steps for enterprises to take and offer insights on how enterprises should act to maximize the potential value of this new technology.

5G business opportunities: mobile IoT connectivity enhancements from 5G

5G is the first mobile network that has been designed from the ground up to support IoT use cases (blog post on 5G use cases for enterprises). When 5G was designed a number of use cases was considered and the standard includes functionality to support a number of deployment scenarios, such as:

  • Massive mobile IoT: Mass deployment for efficient and simpler IoT devices, for example sensors. These devices often send little data but cost, energy efficiency and reliable coverage can be critical for the use case to be relevant. 5G massive mobile IoT technology will enable low cost-devices with 10+ years of battery life and enhanced coverage even underground and in remote areas. Part of the technology to achieve this has been brought forward with 4G as NB-IoT and LTE-M and has in many countries been deployed before the 5G roll-out.
  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband: 5G Enhanced brings more data. Today this is often used for data streaming. Enhanced Mobile Broadband is not only relevant for personal communication but also for IoT. Here the focus is on more data and throughput.
  • Critical communication: 5G technology improves the predictability and security of data, providing a fast response which can be used in, for example, autonomous vehicles, or collaborative robots in Industry 4.0. Here the focus is on fast decision making by devices, using fast and predictable service characteristics.

With 5G, IoT applications will also gain more control of the network characteristics and can program it to the needs of the use case. For example, with LTE-M and NB-IoT there is network functionality that allows enhanced coverage or reduced battery consumption for an application (see our guide on differences between LTE-M and NB-IoT). Over time it will be possible to take even more control over service levels, where data is processed etc.

Complementary technologies, such as network edge computing could take this even further, allowing the application to run in distributed cloud servers located close to the IoT device rather than in a centralized cloud data center.

5G business implications: the road to 5G from an IoT application perspective

Over the last few years 5G has been rapidly deployed in many markets across the world. At the same time, handsets capable of 5G have become increasingly affordable so that mobile broadband users can start to gain benefits of 5G where available. From an IoT application perspective the situation is somewhat different. For example, continuous network access is required for many IoT use cases, meaning the application needs to optimize for networks with sufficient coverage. Application and device lifecycles are much longer than for consumer applications and handsets, so to avoid costly application redesigns or hardware replacements, architecture design and technology choices often need to be made with a 10-year horizon or more. Device design constraints are different from handset in other aspects as well, for example, cost and energy consumption requirements are often more stringent. For IoT applications it is therefore important to think ahead. The choices made today will impact the capabilities and cost of the connected solution for many years to come. From an IoT application perspective we think it is useful to think about the road to 5G in three phases: Phase 1 – Transition: Partial 5G coverage Phase 2 – Evolve: Sufficient 5G coverage Phase 3 – Transform: 5G ecosystem established Over the coming pages we will dig deeper into these three steps and describe what they will mean for an enterprise developing or operating IoT applications today.


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