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The APITech Insights blog from experts in the fields of EMI/EMC, EW, Space, RF/Microwave Hardware, Integrated Microwave Assembly, and other areas.

5G in 2021 & The Rise of The Machines, Part 1

April 7, 2021

Key Trends

  • Consumer demand for enhanced mobile broadband continues to drive 5G
  • Increasingly likelihood 5G and Wi-Fi convergence
  • Huge Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) opportunities, including low-latency automation and private 5G networks
  • Push for enhanced mobility: autonomous vehicles enabled by vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications
  • Demand for wireless connectivity augmented healthcare
  • Zeal to connect everything

5G and Wi-Fi 6E The New Frontier of Connectivity

5G has been heralded not only as a new frontier of cellular telecommunications, but an enabling technology for a new paradigm of interconnectivity and intelligence in devices deployed throughout the world. Advances in smart manufacturing, cities, transportation, and our homes, is part of an overhaul that will further enhance, automate, and generally “augment” people’s lives and our interactions with the machine realm.

The rise of 5G machines will be about augmenting business and their customers, and this will pose huge opportunities and challenges for an array of service providers and technology vendors throughout the telecommunications, manufacturing, transportation, medical, and security industries. Organizations that can first harness these technologies to deliver enhanced solutions and services stand to benefit, and the rest will be playing catch up.

McKinsey Global Institute predicts that the GDP impact of connectivity in manufacturing could reach $400 billion to $650 billion by the end of the decade. Building a more connected world will create substantial economic value, mostly enabled by advanced RF connectivity. Consider if enhanced wireless connectivity enables commercial growth that boosts global GDP by the predicted $1.2 trillion to $2 trillion by 2030. This growth would be the equivalent of a 3.5 to 5.5 percent of the expected GDP in these domains. The four commercial areas poised to harness the greatest potential of enhanced wireless connectivity and yield greater revenue with improved cost efficiencies are:

  • Transportation and mobility systems involved in moving people and goods
  • Healthcare: Low-latency networks and high densities of connected devices and sensors make it possible to monitor patients at home in real time, which could be a major boon in the treatment of chronic diseases and lower healthcare costs for individuals and governments.
  • Smart factories: more efficient/proficient automation systems augmented by cloud driven machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Retailers: 5G connectivity can support frictionless in-store experiences for example, eliminating checkout

Possibly due to the hype surrounding 5G or our increasingly internet/data driven global society, there has been massive investment in the development of 5G, Wi-Fi, and other IoT technologies, as well as efforts to develop new use cases only now viable. A very interesting side-effect of this explosion of interest in wireless communication technologies is the extensions of wireless connectivity into virtually all applications, including industrial, automotive, aerospace, and previously unconnected rural areas across the globe. Among these efforts are the drive to connect everyone and everything to the vast internet infrastructure, or at least use the same networking technologies and systems for connecting devices more effectively within secure intranets.

These trends can be seen with spectrum regulation organizations allocating spectrum with private license for use by industrial, small-/medium-sized businesses, as is being done in Germany by the regulator Bundesnetzagentur. This type of localized and purpose-driven 5G network can be designed specifically for the needs of local industries, focusing on minimizing latency, enhancing reliability, and facilitating the communication amongst hundreds to thousands of devices in a relatively small area. Private 5G networks like this would act as wireless local area networks (WLANs) to provide more secure connectivity and will heavily leverage network slicing technology.

5G & Wi-Fi Convergence: A New Generation of Mobility

The push toward ubiquitous internet and wireless connectivity has resulted in a massive rearranging and allocation of spectrum for wireless communications in many countries to further pave the wave for the new connected normal. In some cases, such as in the US, the same spectrum is being allocated for licensed and unlicensed use. Another aspect of this is that Wi-Fi as a wireless local area network (WLAN) technology is being heavily relied upon by 5G networks for offloading traffic and network prioritization. With the ubiquity of both cellular communications and Wi-Fi, there is a natural argument to converge the two technologies to better facilitate a seamless user experience and to benefit each service from the synergy of more formal interoperating methods.

The current arguments are to enable end-user 5G services over trusted Wi-Fi access with quality-of-service (QoS) differentiation for 5G data flows over WLAN. Proponents of 5G and Wi-Fi convergence present potential augmentations that include significantly enhanced and more secure consumer communications, and also enhancements for Industrial-internet-of-things (IIoT) applications. In the case of Industry 4.0, reports have suggested that 5G and Wi-FI convergence could improve the connectivity and traffic steering within a factory for both access technologies, which would result in more efficient deployment of machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI) and data acquisition solutions.

Part 2 Arriving Imminently

Stay tuned for part 2 of the “5G in 2021 & The Rise of the Machines” 2-part blog series coming soon. Part 2 will discuss the growth of wireless connectivity in the Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT), connecting vehicles, recent trends and their impact on the rise of 5G machine technology, and discussion of how to face this new normal of connectivity.