5G is The Foundation For Realizing The Full Potential of IoT

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This Q&A with Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association President and CEO Robert Ghiz explores how 5G will enable the power of the Internet of Things – “IoT”

What is the Internet of Things?

In simple terms, IoT refers to physical objects that are connected to the internet and exchange data with other connected objects or systems. Your mobile device is a connected “thing”, but so are weather sensors, security systems, automobiles, asset tracking devices, factory machines, and so on. It is estimated that there are over 12 billion IoT connections globally, with over 2 billion being cellular connections. These numbers are expected to more than double in the next five years.

Why is 5G important for the Internet of Things?

Most people think of 5G as just an update to existing wireless networks, but it is really a whole new telecommunications system. While 4G networks focus primarily on data transmission (i.e., throughput), 5G is designed not only to provide faster speeds, it is also designed to provide more widespread coverage, handle more connected devices and traffic types, and provide the specific combinations of speed, bandwidth, and quality of service that particular services or systems require. In this way, 5G networks will become smart networks that respond to the needs of the end user, and connect infrastructure, vehicles, sensors, buildings, machinery, and people in ways not previously possible.

What benefits will we see from 5G and IoT?

5G and IoT will enable businesses and organizations to gain real-time insights from the data that is streamed from connected sensors and devices. These insights will not only improve decision-making and operations, but they can also improve the safety and standard of living of individuals. For example, data from remote sensors can warn of natural disasters or increase situational awareness when working in hazardous conditions. IoT can improve efficiencies in farming, increase crop yields and help address food insecurity. 5G and IoT will also help organizations become more energy-efficient and reduce their carbon footprint.

What is the status of 5G in Canada?

While still in the early days of 5G rollout, Canada’s mobile wireless operators have already invested billions of dollars in expanding 5G services across the country. This includes the nearly $9 billion paid to the federal government for the right to use radio frequencies in the 3500 MHz spectrum band for 5G services. The next few years will see the deployment of this and additional spectrum, continued investment in expanding 5G coverage, and new products and service offerings that utilize the increased capabilities of 5G.

What should organizations be doing to take advantage of 5G and IoT?

While many organizations are already using 4G (or 3G/2G) and IoT in some fashion, the combination of 5G with technologies like artificial intelligence will transform the way organizations do business and deliver services. If they are not already doing so, organizations should be exploring the capabilities of 5G and IoT with their technology and wireless service providers.

[Q&A originally published in Innovating Canada, March 16th, 2022].