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Disruptive Change: 5G promises to be an innovation engine across industries

December 06, 2016
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Disruptive Change: 5G promises to be an ...
Similar to the music industry that has completely overhauled its business model, other industries too are transforming themselves. They are moving away from physical consumption towards virtual products and adopting smarter ways of working and collaborating. This transformation places new requirements on connectivity and sets the stage for the next generation of wireless access, 5G, which is expected to be commercially viable by 2020.

5G will provide an innovation platform enabling emergent technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) to become an integral part of our economy and lifestyle. The overall aim of 5G is to provide ubiquitous connectivity for any kind of device and any kind of application that may benefit from being connected. 5G networks will not be based on one specific radio access technology. Rather, 5G is a portfolio of access and connectivity solutions, addressing the demands and requirements of mobile communication beyond 2020.

With new capabilities, the 5G network will spur innovation across many industries. With data rates up to hundred times faster, network latency lowered by a factor of five, mobile data volumes a thousand times greater than that of today, and battery life of remote cellular devices stretched to 10 years or more, 5G will enable new capabilities. Some of these capabilities are:
• Precise remote control: With near-zero latency, 5G will enable the quick reaction time required for operating machinery using haptic control, which allows the remote operator to feel what is going on in the machine’s environment.
• Near-instantaneous communication: With 4G, a self-driving car takes about 1.4 milliseconds to apply its brakes. The speed of 5G would cut the reaction time, shortening the stopping distance to just an inch (2.54 cm), reducing the risk of collisions and accidents.
• Greater efficiency: The low latency of 5G allows factories to shift their robots’ intelligence to the cloud, lowering the cost for individual robots while expanding the ability to control many robots at once, enabling better coordination between robots on a factory floor or across a vineyard.
• Seamless connectivity: Typically, 5G multiplies the number of devices the network can handle and decreases energy requirements, spurring widespread IoT growth. Deploying large networks of sensors, such as vehicle sensors on a road, becomes more practical with greater network capacity and longer battery life for the devices on the network.
• Agile networks: Network slicing will enable operators to provide networks on an as-a-service basis to meet the needs of the widely varied industrial use cases. Speed, capacity and latency will be dialled up or down in the network slices to meet the specific demands.
• Very high data rates: Every generation of mobile communication has been associated with higher data rates compared to the previous generation. In the past, much of the focus has been on the peak data rate that can be supported by a wireless access technology under ideal conditions. However, a more important capability is the data rate that can actually be provided under real-life conditions in different scenarios.
• Very low latency: Very low latency will be driven by the need to support new applications. To support such latency-critical applications, 5G should allow for an application end-to-end latency of 1 millisecond or less, although application-level framing requirements and codec limitations for media may lead to higher latencies in practice.
• Energy-efficient networks: While device energy consumption has always been prioritised, energy efficiency on the network side has emerged as an additional key performance indicator.

5G use cases
• Automotive: Performance (low latency) is a requirement for the quick reaction times needed for autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. As our automobiles become more like mobile devices on wheels, security is an imperative to keep malicious hackers from creating dangerous situations on the road. The automotive industry is interested in device-to-device capabilities to implement vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-pedestrian communication to improve safety.
• Utilities: Cutting costs and ensuring security are dominant concerns of executives in the utilities sector, and 5G technologies will play a major role in both these areas. Executives in the utilities space are increasingly looking at 5G capabilities as a means to increase productivity, ensure faster time to market and boost efficiency.
• Public safety: Increased performance will ensure that urgent communications get through in a timely manner. Next-generation mobile networks will support expansion in connected devices (IoT) such as video surveillance. 5G also promises to help public safety units respond to incidents more quickly.
• Healthcare: Remote house calls and remote diagnosis have long been a dream of healthcare professionals and patients alike. Virtual reality could revolutionise medical training while haptic control will give physicians the feel of a patient’s body during remote examinations.
• Financial services: Financial services executives see the implementation of 5G boosting real-time mobile trading and high frequency trading. With 5G and network slicing, the network for transactions could be securely partitioned for various users or entities, and financial advisers could conduct secure remote sessions with clients to increase extension sales.
• Media and gaming: More than any other industry, media and gaming executives constantly battle disruption from new industry players and new business processes. The higher capacity of 5G will put media companies on track to adopt 4K streaming and even virtual reality for mobile devices.

If one can distill a common sentiment across industry verticals, it is that 5G will be an innovation engine, bringing disruptive change across industries and society. IoT devices with cellular subscriptions will leap from 400 million today to 1.5 billion by 2021. 5G will accelerate this transformation and create new-use cases, new revenue streams, and new business models for industries and consumers. With 5G, industries will have connectivity that is customised for their requirements and the agility to move quickly to meet customer needs and stay ahead of the competition.

By Nitin Bansal, Head of Network Products, Ericsson India

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