5G will become so central to how businesses and societies operate that the shift has been compared to moving from a typewriter to a computer! Alongside IoT, 5G is set to bring a new generation of value and innovation to a variety of markets, delivering what many are hailing as the fourth Industrial Revolution. The combination of the two technologies will see a huge number of futuristic applications brought to life.
We’ve been hearing about 5G’s promise for a while, but 2020 is seen as the year when 5G adoption starts to reach a tipping point. It’s the same year that the number of connected devices will exceed 30 billion. As the world enters a new age of hyperconnected IoT, there is a growing need for bandwidth. After all, smarter products use the network in new and demanding ways. Devices at the edge are no longer primitive sensors, but advanced computers in their own right — autonomous vehicles, industrial gateways, self-learning robots, drones and everything in between.
The ability to process vast amounts of data will require not just a faster connection, but a fundamental shift in how we approach all forms of technology.
More than a sprint: 5G is a pace-setter
We’ve moved beyond the simple notions of speed. To the average consumer, 4G allows us to do everything we want most of the time — sift through social media, stream shows and speak to friends and family over a cellular network. The strength of 5G lies in its increased capacity and reduced latency times. 5G will be the most reliable means of processing compute workloads and the benchmark for supporting more advanced technologies.
When it comes to IoT, 5G’s reliability opens up a seemingly infinite number of new use cases. Data collected at the edge can be understood and acted on in near real time. Multigigabit-per-second speeds and one-millisecond latency times will ensure more data than ever can be quickly and easily collected and analyzed, overlaying increased intelligence into every device at the edge.
IoT innovation: 5G the enabler
The combination of 5G and IoT will spawn a whole new generation of innovative applications.
Autonomous vehicles remain one of the most talked about examples, with data collected and fused from a vast array of sensors, including speed and rain gauges, GPS and external cameras. With the advent of 5G, this information will become indispensable as companies and cities overlay other technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, onto the real-time data outputs and revolutionize how we transport ourselves.
Improving traffic flows, identifying manufacturing defects automatically and supporting passenger safety can all be realized through the harmony of 5G and IoT.
Partnering robotics with 5G, meanwhile, could revolutionize healthcare and support more advanced techniques. Real-time rendering of virtual models will see telesurgery become a viable and commonly available option, ensuring that access to treatment is not hindered by geography. A human doctor could perform an operation on a 3D model, while a robot carries out the same procedure on a patient somewhere else in the world.
Cars and robots show the benefits of 5G intersecting with IoT, but both do raise questions around security. Previous generations of mobile networks were designed with consumers in mind, meaning security was a somewhat less critical consideration. As more companies take advantage of the increased speed, however, and migrate their operations to 5G infrastructures, the need to protect the network and edge device becomes increasingly imperative.
Take into account that 5G supports network slicing — the ability to create multiple virtual networks on top of one platform — and security will now have to drop its one-size-fits all mantra.
In the case of smarter vehicles, hackers have multiple access points to exploit and a failed network could have serious, if not deadly, repercussions. Connected robots will also need the strongest protections possible, as their ability to interact directly with the physical world makes them dangerous and attractive targets for creative criminals.
Solving security: 5G the protector
The good news is that 5G capabilities will enable new types of security services as well. Software can now support ongoing device health checks, especially when coupled with the increased bandwidth of 5G, allowing system and application updates and rollbacks to flow in a timely manner. That’s one way to help future-proof connected devices with a next-generation connection, but what about when the network itself becomes the security measure?
5G is expected to roll out over a radio frequency like previous iterations, but other mediums have been touted in order to bring an extra layer of security to the network.
Li-Fi is a disruptive technology with the power to unlock the potential of IoT in a safe manner. By transmitting data over light instead of radio waves, Li-Fi could ensure the validity of the connected home, with IoT devices only able to access the network when in direct contact with the light signal.
It’s an interesting use case for 5G and one that maximizes its speed and capacity without the added security risks. Smart homes and future offices could be almost unrecognizable with secure connected devices at their hearts — constantly evolving layouts and concept themes with their connected building application ecosystems all being controlled by real-time data.
As 2020 and the advent of significant 5G adoption near, the possibilities seem endlessly exciting.
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