5G is the revenant technology which could work wonders for the IoT

Nick Booth

In 30 years of communications Paul Carter has seen more re-incarnations than any exorcist, says Nick Booth.

Long-forgotten multiplexing methods keep reappearing. If you thought Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) died with 2G you might be spooked to see wideband buried in the foundations of 5G. But Carter’s hair doesn’t stand on end when he sees, say, traces of ancient wireless loop appearing in 5G networks.

Carter has seen many technologies launch, die – sometimes of embarrassment – and then find favour again as he has progressed from a masters and PhD degree student of mobile radio to the CEO of Global Wireless Solutions.

Mass acceptance?

Like much of the marketing of technology, the tired old slogans about revolution and evolution miss the point and mislead people. “When Barry West was pushing Wimax for Sprint, he said that America would never have won independence if it talked about evolution,” says Carter, recalling how a British industry legend had tried to endear himself to the American market. His dig at Long Term Evolution (LTE) was right, but then again Wimax didn’t win mass acceptance either.

However, elements of each would come back from the dead in the blueprint for 5G. This suggests we think about technology all wrong. It is a living breathing entity, neither a tool for revolution or a chapter of evolution. It’s more of a spirit that keeps coming back, a Revenant.

The Revenant

It is the constant misunderstanding of the nature of each new wave of automation that stops us from getting the full value out of it. Carter witnessed this happening on the mobile phone side of the comms business. Both providers and consumers endlessly struggle to understand each other. Users don’t understand what their options are and the suppliers don’t anticipate the tastes of their customers. “We’d run survey after survey which never got close to getting under the skin of the customers,” says Carter.

Do you remember when the exhibitions about 3G mobiles used to be all about girls, games and gambling. (The three Gs – geddit?) Surely much more value could have been created out of what was already a sensitive, intelligent network.

Unless there is wider appreciation of 5G networks, we are never going to realise the full potential this technology can unlock for the IoT says Carter. The leap in complexity from 4G to 5G isn’t reflected in the name. It should really be called Five Six and Seven G, so significant is the advance in all directions.  

Not just about speed

As a result of this underestimation of 5G, people will assume it’s just about delivering more speed. If the non-technical people who sign off on projects don’t understand the product, they are less likely to exercise the full range of options open to them.

Which is unfortunate given that we are moving to an IoT world, where machine-to-machine transactions give the consumer so many more options. We could, in theory, be able to influence the environment.

But instead, the applications they demand will only scratch the surface of what is possible.

“We try to ask the users what matters to them and whether they understand the environment, and the possibilities,” says Carter.

The possibilities are always a sticking point. When Carter was new to the industry, British TV programmes like Tomorrow’s World had been reporting on a new mobile phone technology. The conclusions of the telly ‘futurists’ were always that, ‘it works, but nobody would be able to use it because the British government had no plans to release the airwaves’.

This (ultimately) incorrect prediction mattered, because spectrum was made available for mobile phones and just a few years later, in 1985, the first UK wireless network was launched.

The point being that developers all over the world will need popular backing for their proposals to work – if they involve the public, that is.

Lower power, longer life

The largely unreported beauty of 5G is that it allows for IoT devices to function on lower power for much longer. That’s a revelation that won’t get lay audiences or boards of directors leaping out of their seats punching the air, unless you can put it into a context they will understand. However, it’s the key asset that could help us use IoT over 5G so that we can get better data, change the way we interpret, make better decisions and control all the elements in our environment and ultimately our lives, says Carter.

The author is freelance technology writer, Nick Booth.

 Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow


Army’s new next generation squad weapon programme to launch ARC’s weapons intelligence platform

Posted on: August 12, 2022

Washington – Armaments Research Company, Inc, a technology and data company serving national security and public safety customers, announced their Internet-of-Things (IoT) full-stack technology will be introduced in the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) programme of record, in partnership with Sig Sauer. For the first time in 65 years, the U.S. Army’s initiative will replace

Read more

Connected logistics market to hit $47.6bn valuation by 2029 backed by MaaS for fleet management

Posted on: August 12, 2022

The global connected logistics market stands at a valuation of US$22.2 billion (€21.61 billion) in 2022 and is projected to reach $47.6 billion (€46.34 billion) by the end of 2029. Demand for connected logistics is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% over the forecast period (2022-2029).

Read more

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more
IoT Newsletter

Join the IoT Now online community for FREE, to receive: Exclusive offers for entry to all the IoT events that matter, round the world

Free access to a huge selection of the latest IoT analyst reports and industry whitepapers

The latest IoT news, as it breaks, to your inbox