With the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) set to top 20 billion by the year 2020, the wireless mobile internet networks that enable these will need to be improved upon in order to handle such an increase in numbers. This is where 5G networks will come into play. As the Internet of Things has continued to grow over the past few years, new and innovative ways of increasing the volume of data that can be transmitted as well as the speed at which it is sent are being developed in order for existing infrastructure to cope with the predicted increase in connected devices and data transferal. One of the newest solutions to this problem is the, as of yet, somewhat limited arrival of 5G wireless mobile internet technology. While not expected to fully emerge until around 2020, it is currently being predicted that 5G networks will vastly expand the capabilities of wireless internet connectivity and the IoT.
We will look into some of the high level benefits 5G networks will bring once it is a fully developed standard and is widely available to leverage its potential both at industry and at the consumer level.
5G vs its Predecessors?
Fairly simply, 5G stands for fifth generation. This is in reference to the fifth generation of mobile wireless standards based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard of broadband technology. However, while 5G technologies are in development, no formal standard has been set as of yet. Like its 3G, 4G and LTE predecessors, 5G will aim to build upon the foundation left by its previous iterations by not only allowing people to make their calls and texts and browse the web, but also greatly increase the speed at which data is shared across the network making it possible to offer more services and applications to the users.
At present, 4G LTE networks are capable of around 1 Gb per second. However, most people won’t experience these kinds of download speeds as the 4G signal can be disrupted by various different things including matter, microwaves and other WiFi signals. As previously mentioned, formals standards are yet to be made, however, most experts expect 5G to be backwards compatible with both 4G and 3G, allowing older models with 3G and 4G capabilities to continue to function using 5G networks. 5G technologies would also mostly likely make the most out of multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antennas in order to boost signals in areas where 5G is offered. This due to the fact that 5G will probably find itself on the frequency band up to 6GHz as it moves information at a much faster speed, however, high frequency signals don’t travel as far as lower frequencies, hence possible need for MIMO antennas.
How Will 5G Networks Affect The Internet Of Things?
As we’ve begun to see, there are various ways in which 5G wireless mobile internet can help shape the future of the internet of things while also allowing the IoT network to cope with increasing numbers of connected devices and data transferals. Let’s now look at a few of the different aspects of the Internet of Things that 5G technologies will look to improve upon.
Size: The sheer size of the Internet of Things has grown substantially over the past few years as more and more devices become connected and additional applications are discovered or developed. The ability of 5G networks to transmit more data at faster speeds would enable even more connected devices the ability to connect to the network and “talk” to each other. High latency has always been an issue for companies with multiple connected devices, however, with 5G technologies adopted into the mix, companies could add many more devices to their network without overcrowding it and causing further latency issues.
Power Consumption: Power consumption is another concern for companies and individuals looking to implement multiple connected devices to a network. Recent innovations such as Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), part of the 3GPP Release 13 and beyond, allows for narrower bandwidth that is optimized for IoT applications with low data rates. This would enable connectivity with much lower power consumption and would also reduce strain on bandwidth. Scalability is key for many industrial and commercial operations and 5G technologies will look to make such possibilities viable.
Data: The most obvious effect the implementation of 5G technologies will have on the Internet of Things is its ability to share much larger volumes of data at faster speeds than its 4G or LTE predecessors. Using more advanced wireless communications methods such as MIMO to boost 5G signals means that more data can be sent and received in a much quicker space of time. Multiple transmitters and receivers spread over larger distances work better than singular antennas spread further apart. For this reason, coverage in typically harder to reach areas such as remote rural locations or inside large buildings could be drastically improved.
The Not Too Distant Future
We keep learning everyday how 5G networks could impact the Internet of Things and how these two form the foundation for the age of digitalization, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. As our world continues to become increasingly connected, It remains to be seen just how much we will come to rely on the internet of things. However, what can be safely assumed is that these technologies, both 5G and IoT, will continue to shape how we lives as consumers, commuters, employees, business owners, managers and so on. 2020 is only three years away, how quickly 5G networks come about and begin to deliver their promise depends on how quickly standards are established and technologies developed to support and operate on these networks.