Coined the 4th industrial revolution, 5G has received much hype at the CES show last week as it opens new opportunities for IoT devices. Many believe 5G will enable IoT technology to reach its full capabilities and ensure that IoT devices become part of our everyday lives.
So, what is 5G (fifth-generation cellular network)? Most people think of it as faster download speeds, going beyond what was possible with 4G. Yet it’s more than that— 5G offers high speed, low latency (the ability to a high volume of data with little delay), and seemingly everywhere global cell coverage. It promises the ability to control devices in nearly real-time, providing the speed needed when a delay could result in a disaster such as when heavy machinery is being controlled remotely or when doctors use robotics to operate from remote locations.
The Rise of 5G and IoT
It is forecast that IoT will make up one-fourth of the global 41 million 5G connections in 2024, according to Machia Research. The vast majority will be utilized in the auto industry. Research firm IDC anticipates by 2022 that 1.3 billion smart devices will be shipped globally, more than double that of 2018.
One area where 5G is expected to make a big impact is in the healthcare industry, where it is expected to make remote healthcare a reality. In partnership with Ericsson, Imaginalis and El.En. are harnessing their technologies in the surgical ward to allow surgery to be more precise, less expensive, and to reduce side effects. The companies plan to improve remote diagnosis via faster mobile connectivity and better data compression, so physicians can transfer images faster and improve remote examination.
Sprint also made a big splash at CES, announcing several initiatives including a development of a smart city in Greenville, SC and a smart vehicle test track in Peachtree Corners, GA. Both will utilize the company’s Curiosity Internet of Things platform and the 5G network. The smart city will be comprised of connected vehicles, smart machines and independent drones – all operating in real-time.
The new test track will enable Sprint to explore how AI, robotics and autonomous vehicles applications can improve communication between vehicles, infrastructure and warning systems. Examples include testing how to improve lane changes and highway exiting in connected vehicles and exploring how road messages could be displayed on a car’s dashboard.
Sprint is also teaming up with Mapbox to launch precision mapping technology to offer smart services (such as drones and delivery carts) the ability to make location and routing decisions similar to how drivers react to road changes. Mapbox has developed highly-detailed and accurate maps using data from AI and hundreds of millions of sensors. Sprint will improve the Mapbox system by utilizing its Curiosity IoT technology and 5G.
Other applications that will benefit from 5G and IoT technology include massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), such as those used for smart traffic management, autonomous driving and even solar-powered streetlights in cities and public safety communication made device-to-device when an active cellular network is not necessary.