The Evolving Internet of Things will require robust 5G networks

By Chris Pearson, President, 5G Americas

July 2019

This is truly an astonishing time for 5G, as sophisticated enabling technologies are converging in a quickly
digitizing world. Individually, technologies like AI and machine learning, augmented reality, blockchain, robotics, cloud and edge computing all represent transformational technologies of our age. They are the electricity and oil of
our current day. Combined, these forces represent a tsunami of change.

Back in 2002, when I helped launch a new organization called 3G Americas, these technologies were either non-existent or just a bare whisper of a vision. Today, everything is colliding in an orchestra of convergence.

It just so happens that 5G sits at a crucial crossroads for this convergence, acting as a force multiplier for most of those technologies. In the latest 5G Americas white paper, entitled 5G: The Future of IoT, we look into the blossoming relationship between 5G and the Internet of Things. We peer into the crystal ball of trends and technology re-shaping mass connectivity, as a ubiquity of cameras, sensors, devices, robots and vehicles clamor to have their voices heard and their presence registered as the network edge becomes increasingly more intelligent.

IoT is seeing explosive growth

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues an incredible growth trajectory with 20B connected things and $1T in worldwide spending in 2020, according to Gartner and IDC. As of July 2019, there were 56 networks with NarrowBand-IoT, and 24 commercial networks deployed with LTE-M machine type communications, according to research firm TeleGeography. The amount and variety of IoT use cases will truly be staggering. Looking at Industry 4.0 use cases based on manufacturing robotics alone, robots are using techniques such as imaging, sensing and Extended Reality (XR) to increase efficiency. They capture real-time information and automatically adapt to shop-floor events, as well as manage predictive analytics to assess when they need repair. As of 2018, connected industries accounted for only 17% of the global share of IoT projects, according to IoT Analytics – that’s a mere fraction of the global size of the IoT universe – and a reflection of the incredible size of this market.

In the 3G and 4G world, IoT was often focused on sensor, monitor or control data IoT applications, using NarrowBand
technologies, which uses a smaller band of spectrum than on a smartphone. These early IoT devices use little data and require low power and long battery life.

IoT is evolving into a vast range of applications with extremely specific, stringent requirements on availability, delay and reliability. The use cases for IoT will truly span across a vast swath of activities including traffic safety, automated vehicles, drones, industrial automation, and health – each needing different protocols and services for the data they manage. Of course, video will continue to be the major driver of data traffic, whether it’s exchanged through file sharing, video-streamed gaming, or video conferencing—will continue to be in the range of 80 to 90 percent of total IP traffic. Cloud-enabled video surveillance cameras already accounts for 2 percent of Internet video traffic today and will grow seven-fold to reach 3 percent by 2022. Virtual and augmented reality are two other areas expected to see high growth trajectories through 2022, poised to grow 12-fold over the next five years (65 percent CAGR), according to Cisco.

5G Evolves Networks to Meet Global IoT Data Demand

At the same time global IoT use is surging, 5G rollouts are opening up new doorways to mobility innovation. As of July 2019, there were 23 commercial networks launched worldwide that adhered to 3GPP standardized 5G technology,
according to research firm TeleGeography. That number is anticipated to grow to about 56 commercial 5G networks worldwide by the end of 2019. Cisco forecasts that by 2022, nearly 12 percent of global mobile traffic will come
from 5G
, which equates to over 422 million 5G capable devices generating approximately 21GB of traffic per month.

5G will play a vital role in Enterprise IoT by connecting billions of devices and sharing data independently for a mixed domain of applications/services, offering wide area coverage, high security, support for massive amounts of new devices, better connectivity, improved energy usage, and simplicity in management and access to trusted spectrum. Overall, the 5G standards established by 3GPP ensure next generation IoT can be served by the fastest network data rate with relatively low latency and better coverage for Machine-Type Communications (MTC) compared to present 4G LTE networks.

Additionally, 5G networks provide several key improvements over 4G LTE networks for IoT: the application of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), edge and cloud computing, as well as enhanced security improvements.

  • According to McKinsey Digital, ML and AI are being used in 60 percent of reported IoT activities between 2016 and 2018, due to algorithmic advances, the proliferation of data, and tremendous increases in power and storage capabilities at a lower cost.
  • Cisco sees that 33 percent of global service provider network capacity will be within a metro network by 2022, 24 percent in regional backbones, and 43 percent in cross-country backbones – emphasizing the need to tie together the network core to the network edge.
  • Finally, 5G offers numerous security protections. It is the first mobile architecture to support specific use cases
    with different cybersecurity requirements. It has improved protection against hijacking of IoT devices or with Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks, it supports network slicing to provide operators with network segmentation capabilities, and it has advanced security/authentication mechanisms via nodes such as the services capability server  and additional capabilities to enable secure access to the core network.  

 

There is no doubt that 5G will be a fixture of the future of the Internet of Things. As wireless networks continue to add more robust security, intelligence, and raw power into their architecture, its technologies will well serve the dizzying array of new services and traffic that Internet of Things will offer.

This is an exciting time and I am happy to continue to be part of this amazing 5G journey!

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