5G and IoT: Paving Way for the Next Generation in Communication

By Len WegnerJanuary 12, 2017

With the advent of hi-tech smartphones and tablets, mobile consumers are increasingly looking out for networks capable of rendering high-quality data services. To feed this dramatically growing requirement, the question being asked in most quarters of the telecom industry is - What's next after 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE)? The answer invariably is 5G, the fifth-generation mobile network.

"4G is good for now, however, if you would look at it in five or ten years, 4G will obviously not be able to meet requirements for new applications coming up in the next few years," says Professor Zhiguo Ding at the Lancaster University. "With 5G we will increase the data rate, reduce the end-to-end latency, and improve coverage.  These properties are particularly important for many applications related to IoT."

5G, as illustrated by the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) IMT-2020 standard, is an ecosystem which aims to improve the connectivity experience of a mobile consumer. 5G networks, initially, are likely to cover all or some of the following segments - “evolved” IoT (Internet of Things) use case, virtualized mobile core, and deployment of LTE-Advanced along with new spectrum. 

The fifth-generation mobile network will hit the market faster than expected. According to a survey conducted by Telecoms Intelligence, co-sponsored by InterDigital and Mitel, 86% of the respondents foresee the initial rollout of 5G before or by the end of 2020.

The above-mentioned survey carried out among 830 top industry professionals was split into three broad divisions - (1) attitude towards 5G, (2) expected changes in B2B and B2C services, (3) challenges and radio requirements around the 5G mobile network. The common theme, however, among all the three categories was to build a 5G framework for the IoT.

More than 82% of the participants in the Telecoms Intelligence survey believed that both consumer and enterprise/industrial IoT will play a pivotal role in spurring the development of the fifth-generation mobile network.

Vice versa, leading industry analysts assume that 5G, when it finally arrives in 2020, will become the driving force for the Internet of Things, linking up devices, cars, and cities with more than 1000X data handling capabilities than today’s cellular networks.

“Increasingly, IoT and 5G are becoming inextricably linked as concepts, largely due to the plethora of identifiable IoT use cases that will require 5G’s coverage and ability to manage an exponential increase in connected devices,” said Robert DiFazio, Vice President, InterDigital Labs – Future Wireless, InterDigital.  “That being said, it will be interesting to see whether unexpected and high-value use cases will emerge to drive 5G, the way video-enabled social networking and the sharing economy did for LTE.”

Cost Projection for the Fifth Generation Mobile Networks

iGR, a market research agency focused on the wireless and mobile industry, in an analysis estimated the cost of developing and deploying the 5G network in the U.S.

“One of the biggest questions surrounding the somewhat nebulous term ‘5G’ is how much it will cost,” said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR. “Through this study, we wanted to clarify 5G’s actual definition and quantify what it will take in dollars to build and deliver 5G."

The iGR forecast indicates an estimated $56 billion spending in the U.S. from 2017 to 2025 to build and develop the 5G. The study also breaks down the cost into three fundamental requirements of 5G deployment - cell site densification, RAN upgrades, and MEC/data center/CO.

What currently stands in the way of more widespread IoT adoption is disconnected systems, says Professor Zhiguo Ding. The application of 5G will be ideal for the Internet of Things with bigger prospects like a smart city, where a framework for sustainable connection is required.

The fifth generation of wireless communications is slated to transform applications, communications, and commerce, enabling new use cases correlated to the Internet of Things (IoT). 5G networks will be able to connect future devices with greater substantially, capacity, and considerably reduced latency.

5G and the Internet of Things will continue to be a dominant focus across the mobile telecom spectrum. The revolution will create a new era of communication, adding up new industries and verticals to the information and communications sector.