Right now, there is hardly any industry that’s not going to be transformed by 5G. In fact, the approximate number of 5G wireless connections is projected to increase from 10 million in 2019 to 1.01 billion in 2023 – a staggering compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 217.2%.
To better understand the role of 5G and how it has accelerated transformation across industries and encouraged widespread adoption of new technologies, let’s first break down what 5G is and how it works.
What is 5G?
According to Techterms.com, 5G is defined as:
“…the fifth-generation of cellular data technology, succeeding 4G and related technologies including LTE.”
Leading tech giant Cisco adds to this definition, the function of 5G:
“It is designed to increase speed, reduce latency, and improve the flexibility of wireless services.”
To give you some perspective, here is a little history: The first generation of wireless cellular technology (1G) was introduced in the 80s. Mobile phones that employed 1G could only support voice calling because of the analogous nature of the 1G networks: 2G succeeded 1G, and with it came the ability for networks to provide additional services such as text, picture messaging, and MMS thanks to the digital radio signals used by 2G. Nokia emerged as a leading mobile brand during this 2G era: The dawn of 3G would forever change the world. 3G brought with it wireless voice telephony, mobile internet access, video calling, and even mobile TV. Apple changed the nature of mobile phones forever when they released the original iPhone on June 29, 2007: Today, most smartphones are running on fourth-generation (4G) systems that support HD mobile TV, 3D TV, video conferencing, IP telephony, and mobile web access.
5G promises to bring new capabilities that will create opportunities and transform the way businesses operate. 5G is about 20 times faster than 4G. However, there is more to it than just more rapid connection speeds. Users can expect extremely low latency, reliability, and power while supporting more devices.
Now that we know the history of broadband cellular network, let’s see exactly how it works.
How 5G works
Essentially, the technology behind each generation is the same. The only differences between subsequent generations are the new frequency bands, non-backward-compatible transmission technology, and higher data rates.
The spectrum in which 5G operates falls into 3 bands:
- low (<1 GHz),
- mid (1 up to 6 GHz) and,
- high (24 to 40 GHz)
5G is available in all of the band tiers, but only the high band enables download speeds from 1 to 3+ Gbps – which is the chief benefit of 5G, and what phone OEMs and carriers are touting.
There are, however, notable issues with the high band tier:
- Significant band signal weakness
High band signals don’t travel very far and can be obstructed by objects (buildings, trees, etc.): The further one is from a tower, the less reliable speed and coverage are.
Conversely, low to mid bands have greater coverage and are more reliable but have slower download speeds, similar to what we see with LTE and, further down the spectrum, 3G.
To maintain greater coverage for 5G speeds will require carriers to build more nodes and masts, which are expensive CapEx projects and consumers will likely cover these costs via higher priced subscriptions.
- High mobile phone battery depletion rates
High band speed will drain batteries at a greater rate: This raises an important question – do consumers want slim, stylish smartphones that deliver high band performance, knowing that their phones will require more frequent charging?
Or, will they accept bulkier, less aesthetically appealing products that deliver performance with the battery capacity that they’re accustomed to?
While these are serious issues carriers and mobile phone manufacturers still need to address, the truth is 5G technology is already in full swing in many industries. Let’s take a look at some of the top 5G use cases according to industry.
Specific 5G use cases by industry
In 2021, more companies will invest in 5G to deliver highly customized, connected solutions that respond in real-time as is already being witnessed in the following industries.
- Energy & Utilities
In this industry, grid monitoring, control, and protection make use of the 5G network to provide real-time flexible routing of electricity flows depending on generation and consumption levels in different parts of the electrical grid.
In the energy domain, oil rig production analytics is enabled by equipping oil wells with IoT sensors that are connected to 5G networks that have the ability to send and receive data in real-time. This real-time analysis from the oil wells can identify distress signals that alert off-shore teams when the wells fall outside the ideal production ranges.
Autonomous vehicles are one the biggest use cases enabled by 5G – in particular cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology. This tech allows these self-driving cars to connect to the 5G network and transmit data through vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-network (V2N), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) technologies.
Within the agriculture sector, 5G use is seen in automated machinery which can be operated remotely from a central control center over the 5G network.
Farming drones for monitoring is another 5G use case within the agricultural industry. Drones can now be deployed to monitor livestock, automated machinery, and fields. A high-quality, live video feed is sent over the 5G network to the central control room for management.
Manufacturing automation is a classic 5G supply chain use case example. Manufacturing automation refers to automated industrial devices and machinery. These automated machines sometimes called automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are currently being employed along 5G networks by numerous manufacturing companies.
The mobility management, coverage and quality of service assurance of 5G networks provide the reliable communication needed by these types of automated guided vehicles (heavy burden carriers, unit load handlers, forklifts, etc.) to do their jobs safely. For example, 5G is assisting these AGVs to move across factories and warehouse floors more efficiently.
This generation of the technology and new capabilities has some new possibilities and promise: The US is currently championing a huge push to build out these networks to approved providers: As the US pursues the connected future, there needs to be strong focus on security of connections, devices and applications : It is important that the 5G networks are built securely from the start: In March 2020, the White House developed the National Strategy to Secure 5G, outlining how the Nation will safeguard 5G infrastructure domestically and abroad. In January 2021, the Nation Strategy is focused on securing 5G and ensuring the US is equipped to continue development, deployment, and management of secure and reliable 5G.
5G is a powerful technology that’s not only accelerating transformation and adoption of new technologies in our communities but is also changing the B2B and B2C landscape.
With all the 5G apps and infrastructure that’s being rolled out, enterprises need to stay on top of their game so they are not left behind.
Liberty Advisors boasts a team that’s both experienced and professional, with extensive knowledge about 5G and industry insights. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our strategists to map a way forward for your business, contact us today.
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