5G – the new cellular standard – promises a massive increase in bandwidth for all types of mobile devices. Not only do the users of smartphones benefit from this. The new network will become the technical basis for new digital business models and applications and revolutionize many industries.
From 5G-capable foldable smartphones to remote operations on miles away patients, super-fast network rollouts in the USA and the Internet of Things to robots, there currently seems to be hardly any topic related to 5G. It is time for telecommunications providers or communications service providers (CSPs) to explore new possibilities – from expanding capacity to providing new services, content and interactions that were previously not possible. With 5G as the critical technology for the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing, you now have a unique opportunity that was unimaginable just a few years ago.
The Internet of Things places high demands on hardware and software, on the one hand, because of the vast number of “things” and the other hand because of the gigantic amounts of data collected. 5G is the answer to this massive increase in data traffic, delivers much faster speed, far lower latency and a significantly higher density than 4G. If we want to use the potential of IoT, robotics, autonomous vehicles, smart cities and public administration, and telemedicine, then each of these factors has to be involved.
Speed, Latency And Density
In terms of speed, a typical 5G example is a high-definition movie that can be downloaded in ten seconds, compared to around twenty minutes at best today, depending on local bandwidth. The latency differs and reflects the time it takes for the data to transfer between two points. We are talking about a delay of less than a millisecond, which is essential, for example, when performing remote operations.
The density is significant because the number of devices connected to a network simultaneously is immense. There are currently more than 23 billion connected devices worldwide, and with more mobility and IoT use cases, the number is growing steadily. Everyone knows situations in which the speed drops dramatically when everyone is logged in. With increasingly connected vehicles, household appliances, medical devices, wearables and intelligent products, we need networks that can supply significantly more machines than ever before.
Connected Vehicles And Remote Operating Theatres
This can be explained well using the example of networked vehicles: Assume an automobile manufacturer builds ten million vehicles per year and wants to connect each of these vehicles to the data centre to offer connected services. This then means that around 27,000 new objects to be managed are added every day.
With everything that goes with it, firewalls have to be switched, and sufficient computing power, storage capacity, and bandwidth must be made available. If each vehicle were to send only 100 kB of data per day, that would be 365 terabytes per year. The industry is not yet prepared for this challenge, but with 5G, it can lay an essential foundation.
A surgeon could use a robust, highly reliable 5G network to perform critical robotic surgery on a patient in another clinic in the medical field. With 5G, a low latency service can be provided via network slicing to ensure that manipulations are performed in real-time and without delay. In addition, high throughput enables the surgeon to experience high-quality sounds and images in high resolution. Maximum reliability for the duration of the operation is also essential to ensure that other users do not impair performance.
A vision of the future is drone deliveries – images of swarms of unmanned flying objects in the sky are integral to every science fiction film. With the dense 5G network, many drones can be supported and coordinated remotely, avoiding collisions. The advantages of drone deliveries are fewer traffic jams, especially in urban areas, and the accessibility of distant locations that previously lacked the infrastructure for deliveries.
Investments In The Network Infrastructure Necessary
Significant investments in network infrastructure are required to achieve all of this. It’s a big undertaking for CSPs, which is why a pure 5G network is unlikely shortly. A hybrid form is more realistic – with 4G for essential services and 5G for specific tasks. For this reason, it is vital to rely on a so-called Telco-Cloud.
This software-defined technology both supports the current 4G technology and lays the foundations for 5G, which is very much appreciated by operators such as Vodafone. “The ability to be flexible and agile while further automating network operations and management could only be achieved through a software-defined infrastructure,” said Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer of the Vodafone Group.
The Security Challenge
In my experience, security is the greatest challenge and, therefore, the Achilles heel of IoT and 5G. Data protection and security regulations must be considered, especially when transferring data in sensitive medical areas with autonomous or networked vehicles or wearables.
For example, if a system that has existed for 20 years in a production facility is connected to a digital Industry 4.0 environment, there is initially a security gap. Because the old system was not designed ever to be connected to the digital world. The big task is to make an inherently insecure system secure, for which there are various possible solutions. One possibility is to connect a gateway (the electronic device that can connect different network technologies) in front of the older system.
This prevents a possible attack or unauthorized access to the design from the data centre. In addition, the analysis of the data stream can provide indications that a hacker is accessing the system without authorization. The basis for more security, Both in the 5G and the IoT environment, there are intelligent, secure networks, automation and standards. Investments in safety must be made today as insurance for the future of 5G. This is necessary to avoid hidden costs that later arise from defending against and combating attacks on insufficiently protected, sensitive data.
5G is a development that affects the telecommunications industry and manufacturing companies, the healthcare industry, automobile manufacturers, or service providers such as logistics companies and airports – many industries will benefit from 5G. Companies should use the possibilities of 5G for their competitiveness.
5G is the network and the basis for turning the promises of many other technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning into reality – because all of these technologies generate significant amounts of data that have to be transmitted. Any company that misses this opportunity will struggle to survive in the digital world.
Also Read: 5G And Health : That’s How Dangerous 5G Is