5G, low-latency and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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5G is about to change the world, connecting everything faster, from smart build to drones to traffic lights.

The Fourth Industrial revolution is upon us and 5G is the spark that’s going to ignite it. It might sound dramatic, but we’re living in a world where technical innovation is changing every aspect of the way we live our lives - on an almost daily basis.

But the success of this innovation often comes down to speed and power. Without the correct amount of computational power and speed of connections, innovation stalls and ideas don’t go any further than intangible dreams or scribbles on notebooks.

So, when you add something like 5G into the mix, everything can change. And it will change.

What’s exciting beyond the everyday improvements a low-latency 5G connection can bring, is the previously out of reach technology that suddenly becomes available to increasing numbers of businesses. From smart buildings that feel more like giant computers than bricks and mortar, to robots and automation changing the way we explore, build and work, the future with 5G is exciting.

Here are three areas of technology that’ll benefit from the high-speed and low-latency of 5G:

  1. The Internet of Things at your fingertips

5G promises to bring 100 times more capacity to the network – supporting as many as a million devices per km2. Fundamentally, it’s going to enable more things to be connected in real-time than ever before. You could say we’re approaching a big tipping point, in terms of what will be made possible by the Internet of Things

Lower latency means lower battery consumption, more visibility and better control – making more applications feasible. Think smarter transport networks where traffic lights across a city adjust according to traffic patterns to minimise congestion. Or an intelligent production line that can tell you how its performing – so you can address issues before they cause unplanned outages or defects.

2. Robots untethered

We’re already seeing semi- or fully autonomous robots in industry sectors such as mining and manufacturing. Today, to keep latency to a minimum, most robotic machinery is tethered to local networks, limiting the settings they can be deployed in.

With 5G, tethered connectivity won’t be required. Robots in factories for example will be able to communicate wirelessly instead of with cables allowing them to work more quickly, share workloads and be more agile. And drones: 5G’s low latency-high bandwidth enables fast links to base stations so heavy computing smarts, like object recognition, can stay on the ground and drones can fly longer and carry heavier packages or better cameras.

3.Smart buildings getting smarter

Smart buildings already use IoT sensors to monitor occupancy, security, lighting and temperature. Add in 5G and building owners will be able to monitor and maintain any piece of IoT enabled equipment, from printers to elevators, virtually and in real-time – reducing equipment failure, downtime and costly on-site visits

CCTV footage of office spaces can be streamed live to mobile devices, providing safer, more efficient workspaces. Thanks to 5G we can now connect a whole number of devices to the network without impacting the service we receive.

With these changes happening already, there’s never been a better time to prepare for 5G. Vodafone are here to help you prepare for 5G and IoT by finding opportunities to change and optimise your business.

By Scott Petty, Vodafone CTO

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