The Synergies of 5G and IoT

prodcastfour_blog4 Like a marriage made in technology Heaven, 5G networking and the Internet of Things promise a synergistic future of collaboration, cooperation and seemingly unlimited new use cases.

Together, they will help manufacturers boost productivity, medical companies improve healthcare, handheld devices widen their appeal to businesses as well as consumers, and...that’s just the start. Search on 5G and IoT and you’ll find hundreds of examples.

The reason they go so well together is simple: IoT sensors need to send and deliver information, and networking is the way to do that. Not all IoT devices will need top-level performance, of course, but those that do will need plenty.

In fact, IoT sensors will have widely varying needs for network intelligence that go beyond sheer speed and lowered latency. Some will have tighter security requirements than others, and many will have specific quality-of-service needs.

Networks will deliver the intelligence and flexibility to address all of these, and they’ll also offer the necessary capacity to account for the billions of IoT sensors, actuators, hubs and platforms that will come our way in the years ahead.

A Revolution And An Evolution

As revolutionary as the new mix of networking and IoT components will be, they won’t be arriving all at once.

Many early-generation sensors are hard at work in manufacturing and other applications, and they’ll likely stay in place until their owners find the best use cases for their replacement. Deloitte points out that, “As with many technologies, prices of IoT-enabled sensors are falling. In commer¬cial applications, replacing existing sensors nevertheless can be expensive.

“More daunting, wholesale replacement can require rethinking a business process. This combination of cost, asset life cycle, and inertia means that many solutions will rely on existing sensors aug¬mented with either communication capabilities or additional sensors.”

Consumer devices will also ride a more evolutionary track, according to the report. Granted, they’ll be taking up new sensor technologies faster than the industrial users, but actual network requirements may have to wait for clarity on use cases.

That’s because, even though they’re now being embedded in everything from autos to refrigerators, “These solutions’ functionality—and business models—are still in flux,” says Deloitte, “leaving similarly undetermined the relationship between the capabilities of the sensors and the networks they require.”

This should be good news to telecoms, since they’ll be going through their own evolutionary processes. They’ll be moving from their traditional, best-effort wireless approach to one that, thanks to 5G, makes guaranteed QoS a reality for more and more use cases. With QoS comes an ability to offer managed services, with its higher price points, to end users as well as communications services partners.

Meeting Somewhere In The Future

The challenge for telecoms and other communications players will be to figure out when and how their capabilities are going to meet up with the sensor evolutions, not to mention the specific needs of their customers.

Telecoms will need to focus on future possible use cases while at the same time keeping their current customers loyal to their services. For this reason, savvy telecoms are making a solid real-time analytics foundation part of their overall transformation.

A real-time analytics foundation helps pave the way to that future meet up for several reasons:

  • Guiding new services rollouts – Technology developments in network function virtualization and network slicing will help telecoms develop advanced managed-service models that bring QoS and other intelligence functions out to the network edge. Analytics will help in assessing performance and utility of the new services as they’re being rolled out.
  • Predicting customer behaviors – Customer behaviors will grow more complex as new features become available through future sensor and software developments. Analytics will help telecoms interpret these behaviors so they can make adjustments in performance, capacity and support.

Maintaining Reliability In The Face Of Change

An end-to-end real-time analytics infrastructure will be also critical to maintaining service levels while changes are taking place across the network’s value stream, which extends from network operations out to the billions of “things” that will be populating the IoT.

Telecoms know that the complexities caused by the onslaught of technical and human changes will be well beyond individual humans’ abilities to predict or fully comprehend. That’s where real-time analytics are essential, and why they should be in place sooner rather than later.

A real-time analytics infrastructure will give these telecoms an end-to-end view of services and technologies, so they can trace outage incidents to network infrastructure outages via root cause analysis. Cloud-based real-time analytics can take in data streams from across the network, then find patterns by comparing the real-time information to contextual/historic information in models and data stores.

The analytics can also use location-based sensors to predict how specific groups of users might react to upcoming events. For instance, real-time analytics would be used to project anticipated traffic patterns created by a major sporting event.

Such analytics will become ever more effective as more and smarter 5G-equipped sensors are placed around smart-city lampposts and other structures. Like any good marriage, there will be bumps in the road, but, used effectively, real-time analytics will help smooth the way.

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