Grid networking options expected to be dramatically enhanced by 5G communications technology

A new report from Navigant Research examines the 5G technology standard and its use cases, focusing on smart grid applications and possible business model opportunities. 5G communications technology is expected to underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the confluence of ubiquitous mobile broadband, pervasive sensing, and artificial intelligence promises to drive massive change across industry and society.

This coming generation of wireless communications promises to make the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Energy (IoE) a reality, while delivering added benefits for power utilities. According to a new report from @NavigantRSRCH, 5G’s flexible, multi-spectrum, multi-function architecture will provide a platform able to support critical latency-sensitive applications as well as low power, low cost applications such as ubiquitous sensing throughout the distribution grid.

“5G will deliver a step-change in public wireless networking that has the potential to dramatically enhance the way utilities network their grid assets and systems,” says Richelle Elberg, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Many of the concerns utilities have historically had with public networks should be alleviated, and the opportunity for a truly ubiquitous, future proof network is one that utilities should not overlook as 5G networks come to fruition.”

Richelle Elberg

In addition to enabling smart fleet management as well as edge computing and cloud technologies for distributed automation and intelligent control, 5G networks may also provide new business model opportunities to power utilities, according to the report. Because the technology depends upon dense small cell architecture, opportunities for utilities to partner with carriers could arise, making dispersed assets such as poles, wires, and rights of way valuable assets.

The report, 5G and the Internet of Energy, provides an overview of the 5G technology standard and its use cases. It discusses the many smart grid applications these networks will support and proposes certain business model opportunities it may create. The report also provides a discussion of the global carriers and infrastructure vendors that are leading the charge toward the 5G future.

Utilities—and their vendors—planning network upgrades over the next 5-10 years must fully understand the longer-term implications of the 5G evolution as they consider their need for future-proof and holistic connectivity.

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