Blog December 16, 2019

5G: There’s Reality in the Hype!

5G is coming and yes, there is hype!

At Tele2 IoT we recently had the pleasure of arranging our 14th IoT Talks event. This year’s theme was “Beyond the Hype” and alluded to the progression of IoT along the Gartner Hype Cycle. Together with customers and partners we argued that IoT is for real and is happening here and now. Five customer use cases, forming the highlight of the conference, proved our point by focusing on real challenges and real benefits of IoT solutions in operation. A relieved audience saw beyond the IoT hype and enjoyed concrete learnings.

If you thought hype days were over and that we can all now concentrate on harvesting the benefits of existing connectivity services, I’m sorry to disappoint you

5G hype is here and its growing! Smartphone manufacturers, network suppliers, various industry organizations, regulators, politicians and media ensure that the fifth-generation mobile communications networks are heralded as the best thing since sliced bread. Sorry, I mean since 4G of course.

So, what’s behind the hype?

It’s actually rather simple: 5G addresses a couple of key challenges that prevent true digitization. Going back to the customer presentations at our IoT Talks we heard about the need for robustness & reliability, the need for security, the challenge with latency when controlling highly autonomous vehicles and the need for high capacity in processing dense gathering of large data volumes. These are all aspects of commercialized IoT solutions today. These are all aspects that are addressed by 5G.

A big difference, compared to previous technology generation changes, is that this time we actually know a lot about what we want to achieve and how we are going to use the technology. There are a number of cases where existing ideas and solutions can be migrated and improved by 5G.

One example is the LPWA-technologies NB-IoT and LTE-M. These are radio standards that can be deployed already in a 4G context to support a plentitude of battery-powered small sensors, e.g. in smart buildings or freight containers, as well as in wearables to allow for longer battery lifetime. Both these use cases will be improved by 5G as the new network incorporates this radio technologies and manage them even better.

Another example is Campus networks. From yesterday’s dedicated radio network installations to today’s on-premise LTE networks, operators such as Tele2 are improving corporate and industrial communications. With 5G we take a further step toward supporting true industrial digitization, aka Industry 4.0.

A related example is Edge computing. By distributing computing power in the operator network and combining it with the low latency of 5G we can enable highly automated manufacturing, safer autonomous transportation and advanced healthcare applications.

These examples may sound sci-fi to you, but they are all 5G evolutions and -improvements of services that are in commercial use today or about to be launched.

Still, a word of caution is always prudent when dealing with hype. The customer use cases at IoT Talks illustrated that many challenges are unrelated to technology choice: A well-thought through strategy, thoroughly analyzed pilot tests and attention to detail in the choice of partners, hardware, business models etc. are still key success factors for your IoT-based benefits to materialize!