Unprecedented breakthroughs in technology have often resulted in the emergence of disruptive technologies and outstanding innovations. A major development in one technology always fuels the growth and advancement of several other technology domains and industries that take advantage of it, resulting in a need to transform businesses to address new opportunities.
The evolution and development of various generations of mobile wireless technologies—mobile phones, mobile application development, eCommerce, banking, transportation, hotels, etc.—have seen a cascading impact on the growth and advancement of various applications. We are about to witness a similar multi-dimensional growth in several industries with the advent of the 5G wireless technology. With speeds that could be at least 10 times faster than 4G networks, 5G is expected to create pathbreaking opportunities for innovation and development in a variety of domains including but not limited to education, IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and health care.
5G networks offer three major benefits, bigger channels, reduced latency and scalability, which allow the connection to a large number of sensors and devices. This combination will enable the government and other industries to introduce advanced digital initiatives involving AI, machine learning (ML), Industrial IoT (IIoT) and a variety of other data intensive applications.
This article focuses on the effect of 5G networks on IoT, and the role that DevOps could play in this mix.
Where Does 5G Fit with Regards to IoT?
At a high level, the focus areas for the five generations of mobile network technologies can be summarized as: 1G, voice; 2G, voice and texting; 3G, voice, texting and data; 4G, everything as in 3G but much faster; and 5G is expected to be everything in 4G but extremely faster.
IoT devices employ a wide range of wireless technologies such as WiFi and Bluetooth, in addition to cellular technologies such as GSM, LTE, 4G and 5G. In the field of IoT, cellular technologies such as 4G, have helped a great deal with regards to device provisioning and device management. These technologies have also improved and ensured coverage, performance, reliability and security of IoT devices and applications.
5G brings in a variety of other benefits that are not available with 4G. The speed, higher capacity and low latency of 5G will make it more ideal for simultaneously connecting a large number of devices. Further, additional enhancements made by some 5G service providers aim at expanding the frequencies for data transfer by digital cellular technologies. These features will also make 5G a major enabler in applications that use IoT where real-time performance and decision making are critical. Remote medical diagnosis and remote surgery are some examples where 5G’s ultra-low latency will help improve the virtual and augmented reality experience, making them more powerful tools in the medical industry—especially at a time of crisis like the currently prevalent COVID-19 pandemic.
The bandwidth reliability and resiliency offered by 5G will pave the way for several new applications for IIoT systems. For example, factors such as operator productivity in manufacturing, reduction in cost of quality management and enhanced quality through continuous monitoring and improvement, are some examples where IIoT can be made more effective with the use of 5G.
The volume of real-time data exchanges with IIoT devices will be greatly increased with 5G. This helps with obtaining more frequent and reliable data on several KPIs in manufacturing, worker productivity, root-cause analysis, etc. Predictive maintenance, which is turning out to be a major use case for 5G and IIoT, aims at predicting failures before they occur by leveraging AI.
The Difference that 5G Makes on IoT Data
Prior to the advent of 5G, technology required to offer a higher bandwidth and reliable network connectivity were quite limited and have further prevented from realizing the fullest potential of several edge devices. These devices can potentially generate and transmit large volumes of data that can be processed and analyzed by cloud-based applications. With 5G, there will be a sharp increase in the capture and use of valuable data from edge devices leading to greater insights and predictive analytics on IoT implementations.
5G technology offers a significant increase in transmission bandwidth, theoretically up to 10 Gbps, as opposed to 4G which only offers 100 Mbps. This increase in bandwidth will result in significant growth in the volume and quality of IoT data and a proportional growth in AI applications leveraging ML and big data. The mass volumes of data created by IoT under the influence of 5G have the power to revolutionize everything, from education to healthcare to manufacturing and even autonomous vehicles.
With 5G, there will be a surge in the volume of data generated by sensors, cameras, drones and edge IoT devices. Integration of data from different sources will lead to the development of several large data-intensive applications that help draw valuable insights regarding the domains in which they are implemented. The convergence of 5G technology, IoT and data analytics will also pave the way for innovation and several new business opportunities. IoT applications leveraging 5G technology will proliferate wearables, smart home appliances, industrial automation and also future self-driven vehicles.
All Things Considered
There is absolutely no doubt that IoT is already taking the world by storm. The power of IoT, when harnessed with the power of 5G technology, will certainly lead to several innovative approaches and open up new business opportunities. Overall, the speed, reliability and low-latency offered by 5G makes it ideal for connecting a large number of IoT devices.
IIoT devices will find a great use for 5G as they can now collect and report large volumes of real-time data from manufacturing units and sensors, helping companies obtain valuable insights and take well informed decisions. The large bandwidth supported by 5G additionally provides edge devices the ability to transmit larger volumes of data more frequently to applications that can process and use the data effectively for AI and ML.
We will definitely see the industry witness a sharp growth in IoT, AI and ML applications relatively soon, given the fast growth of 5G and the enhancements that several service providers are already making in this technology.