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5G: New applications, new business opportunities

5G technology will enable new industrial use cases

With the completion of 3GPP Release 15 in June, 2018, the definition of 5G standards is already partly buttoned up. But even before they were finalized, industries were busy laying the foundations for new technologies and applications that will leverage the performance improvements and new use cases that 5G networks will bring.  

As we outlined in a previous post, the leap from 4G to 5G is about more than just speed. Yes, 5G networks will enable more than 10x faster data rates on smartphones. But arguably the largest impact will come from improvements on two other fronts, namely ultra‑reliable low latency service, and massive connectivity with unprecedented coverage.

From virtual reality to the Internet of Skills

It may still take a few years for 5G to impact you in your everyday life, but when it does, you’ll feel the difference. High data rates – up to several gigabytes per second – will transform the way you communicate, and might finally let augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) live up to their much‑hyped potential. You’ll be able to stream high definition videos on all your devices and leverage the computing power of the cloud in ways that are unimaginable today.

Ultra‑low latency down to half a millisecond, 99.999% availability, and predictable quality of service will enable critical applications that improve safety and wellbeing. Vehicle‑to‑pedestrian communication, to name one, will alert drivers when pedestrians cross roads. Another is remote surgery, with which surgeons will be able to operate, via a robotic arm, on patients that are on the other side of the planet – just one fascinating illustration of the so‑called Internet of Skills that highly secure and resilient communication over 5G networks will enable.

Just imagine the density of connected devices that mobile communication networks will have to reckon with. Our homes, cities, and industries will all be connected. And so will we, with our wearables and all the other devices that will serve us and connect us to social networks, day in, day out. Combined, they will lead to an explosion in the number of connected devices per square kilometer, heightened demands on power efficiency, and on network coverage that 5G networks are fully geared to handle.

Innovation driving technology driving innovation

A recent white paper (gated) by Ericsson predicts a 36 percent revenue increase for mobile network operators by 2026. They predict that other industries will see far greater revenue increases as they digitalize their operations to better meet the needs of their customers, increase their productivity and efficiency, and limit risks and, thus, downtime.

At u‑blox, we’re already out of the starting blocks in the race for 5G, with our portfolio of low power wide area (LPWA) technologies.  LTE‑M and NB‑IoT, the two most prominent licensed cellular LPWA technologies, will be forward compatible with 5G networks and therefore vital 5G components. They are already today enabling a new wave of IoT applications, primarily in the consumer and industrial markets.

But 5G also holds tremendous promise for the automotive industry. In vehicle‑to‑everything (V2X) communication, 5G will expand cellular V2X (C‑V2X) capability, providing a very fast and reliable data pipe between vehicles, infrastructures and pedestrians. C‑V2X is expected to complement 802.11p‑based V2X technology, already ready for deployment, which will provide the underlying connectivity for safety‑related real‑time critical applications.

Because there is so much at stake, we at u‑blox have been working closely with other industry stakeholders in 3GPP to define 5G technology specifications to ensure that the 5G standards meet the needs for emerging use cases and services and still leave ample room for innovation. 3GPP just finalized Release 15 of the mobile communication radio standards featuring the initial business critical features of 5G in June, 2018. The next date to pencil into your agenda is December 2019, when the second phase of 5G NR radio standards will be submitted in Release 16.

If you are an end‑user waiting to be blown away by the technology, you will need some more patience. But if you’re hoping to leverage 5G technology to stand out in your industry, pull out your agenda and circle today, because now is the time to act.