How 5G private networks are revolutionising industrial IoT performance

5G is gaining momentum rapidly with more than 170 operators having launched networks globally and over 260 additional operators investing to deploy the technology1, writes Sebastiano Di Filippo, Senior Director for IoT Business Development at Qualcomm Europe, Inc. There will be more than one billion 5G connections by 20232, with 5G reaching this milestone two years faster than 4G did and it’s now clear that 5G is maturing as the technology becomes more widely available. However, success isn’t measured only in the number of connections, to justify the heavy investment in 5G, revenues must also come.

The predictions look strong with research firm IHS Markit estimating that 5G will contribute US$13.1 trillion in economic value by 20353. The sector that leads this growth is smart manufacturing which is predicted to reach about US$4.8 trillion by 2035 with the power of 5G. Much of this is driven by the increased adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies that are driving the digitisation of existing manufacturing operations, enabling greater efficiency, and improving manufacturing flexibility.

A single connectivity layer

Within this sector, private networks have been deployed to enable everything from smart robots to complex networks of wireless sensors that optimize factory performance. 5G provides a single, intelligent connectivity layer which allows devices to communicate data at the scale of massive IoT with ultra-low latency and increased capacity.

5G private networks provide the ability to simplify flexible production on the factory floor because production lines can be reconfigured to support new variants and fluctuations in demand without having to contemplate moving hundreds of kilometres of cabling. In addition, as new sensors and machines become available, they can be added to the workflow and the 5G network without the need to run network cables, thereby optimizing factories for the future and improving safety.

Importantly, a 5G private network supports technologies involved in smart manufacturing, enabling ultra-reliable and low-latency support for people, machines, and goods as they traverse the factory. This connectivity also makes it possible to collect large amounts of data for secure processing with 5G multi-access edge compute (MEC), to support artificial intelligence (AI) and continuous improvements to operational efficiency.

The 5G private network ecosystem is growing rapidly with deployments across many verticals with companies such as Siemens, Ford, General Motors, Honeywell, and Toyota. And it’s not just in manufacturing that private networks are taking off, sectors such as smart cities are deploying 5G private networks to accelerate initiatives that improve their environmental impact, increase transport efficiency, and enhance citizens’ lives.

New use cases are accelerating 5G uptake

The utilities industry is increasingly adopting 5G private networks for IoT applications, like continuously balancing power generation with consumption and customers’ production of renewable energy. This type of revolutionary two-way business model is central to the 5G value proposition and as 5G is more widely deployed, it is likely that new IoT use cases will emerge to further accelerate progress across multiple verticals.

To help enable 5G as a connectivity fabric that can be utilised by various verticals, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. offers its Qualcomm® 315 5G IoT modem, which is designed to support the IoT ecosystem with building upgradeable LTE and 5G devices. The system offers a comprehensive modem-to-antenna solution to support industrial and enterprise applications, while offering gigabit class performance, low power consumption and thermal efficiency. These combined capabilities can enable a new generation of fast, powerful, and high performance IoT solutions that are taking industrial IoT forward at accelerated speed.

Qualcomm 315 is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

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1 GSA, Jul 2021

2 Average of average of ABI, Jun 2020; Ericsson, Jun2021; and GSMA Intelligence, Jul 2021.

3 The 5G Economy in a Post-COVID-19 Era, 2020 – an independent study from IHS Markit, commissioned by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

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