5G Promises More Opportunities for the Commercial Sector

5G is expected to be focused primarily on enhancing the needs of businesses. But what could it mean for utilities?
Published: Fri 08 Apr 2016

Mobile networks are constantly evolving and we are being gifted with faster network speeds day by day.

When wireless technology became mainstream in the 1980s, the 1G networks supported the huge mammoth-sized mobile phones. Then the ’90s saw the evolution of the 2G digital network when Code division multiple access (CDMA), a channel access method used by various radio communication technologies, transferred mobile phones beyond making voice calls to text messaging and data. It was in 2001 that 3G devices appeared and they offered a pretty high speed data transfer which was used in the earliest smartphones. Then the 4G LTE networks started appearing in 2011.

With regard to the decade-long development of mobile networks, the 5G networks are due in the year 2021. However, South Korea, which is the most enthusiastic adapter of different kinds of mobile technology, is pushing plans to roll out the first 5G network in 2017.

What does this mean for users? Honestly, no-one knows at this point of time what a 5G network will feel like as no such formal standards have been finalized. However, the bigger players are entirely focused on enhancing both data speeds and coverage.

Traditionally, mobile communication takes a small frequency spectrum which ranges between 600MHz and 3GHz and this clearly means that the 5G technology has to boost the effectiveness of this usable spectrum.

5G in the utility space

A recent whitepaper by the 5G Infrastructure Association sheds some light on the potential for utilities, highlighting the potential to deliver new services and applications. According to the Association "...the business potential of introducing 5G in the energy domain is exceptionally high, as it is expected to provide the necessary support not only to the critical machine type communication (MTC) applications of energy grid protection and control, but also to the massive volume of MTC type applications of the emerging smart metering. In summary, the anticipated performance and flexibility of 5G will enable a communication infrastructure which is able to support the emerging energy use-cases of 2020 and beyond."

As smart grids develop, data and communications will become ever more important, and as this sector grows to include "the Internet of Things, large mobile demand/storage (electric vehicles) and stakeholders appear with new business models the challenge for coherent and secure communications as a whole system becomes a major challenge."

Particularly, 5G is seen to be able to provide the speed, latency and reliability to provide a seamless end-to-end solution, allowing utilities to move away from a 'multi-communications' set up as is often the case currently. Concepts such as network slicing and mobile edge computing will allow for the pooling of data transmission and processing. Additionally, 5G will allow for grid connections to be temporarily deployed and enable flexibility in that deployment architecture – without the current high CAPEX costs. 5G could allow for near real-time communication to customers, allowing for even greater efficiency on the network.

5G and IoT

There are many experts who predicted that 5G wouldn’t ultimately appear in the market until 2020. Tech-savvy business owners are asking what 5G will bring to businesses and whether it will give them an edge when it comes to productivity.

While earlier adoptions of wireless technology brought a greater level of convenience to consumers, 5G will be different, explains Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg.

2G, 3G and 4G were made for consumers with high speeds but 5G is being designed for businesses and industries.

Currently Ericsson is working on a 5G infrastructure to help the wine industry, for example. Other personal industries will benefit from their own networks which they will get from companies such as 5G by Nokia Networks.

  • Businesses will also be able to connect with the Internet of Things through 5G. Telecommunications technology previously concentrated on connecting various devices with one another but 5G will be much different from them in several ways. Among them, a 5G network will enable users to connect with different objects through the internet. For instance, Tata Consultancy says that users will be able to connect with things like houses, railways and energy grids.

5G broadens industry data  

With the constant development of 5G technology, below are listed some of the changes that are likely to be brought about:

  • Cities will be interconnected. 5G technology will help enable collaboration on a much broader scale. It is likely to lead to more interconnection between countries and cities that have adopted 5G, giving businesses a better understanding of surrounding business communities.

  • Industry data will be broader: Small businesses have surpassed their larger competitors for optimizing their operation models. But with the rapid growth of wireless technology, companies have access to even more data than in the past. This enables industries to draw data from a wider source. As 5G technology becomes more commonplace, businesses will become even more data-centric.

  • Current technology hints at changes: New technologies often open businesses to new opportunities especially when features enable a higher level of efficiency and accuracy. While the exact impact of 5G is not yet known, it will certainly expose businesses to a wider business community and give them quicker access to a higher volume and quality of data which will only enhance business processes.


Further reading

Nokia-5G – Creating a new era of communication