The Internet of Things is increasing the demand for high-speed Internet. Current mobile networks would be unable to cope with billions of networked devices. But the next-generation wireless network 5G is nearly here – and it promises to deliver more than just increased speed.
For some it sounds slightly Orwellian, while for others it is music to their ears. It is expected that, by 2020, between 20 and 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things. Almost all machines will be online: from industrial plants to the much-hyped fridge that automatically orders food. This would be quite a challenge for network providers in itself. But when you consider that a large proportion of devices will also require mobile Internet, that challenge becomes gigantic.
In every car there are already a variety of assistance systems that constantly communicate with the driver, other road users, or a service center. And the number of these will continue to rise. The data they capture could be used to better control traffic flow, prevent congestion, or avert danger. The only pre-requisite for this is a continuous supply of mobile data and the bandwidth to handle the data traffic.
The fifth generation wireless network (5G) could provide the answer. All around the world, network operators are currently working on its technical details and implementation. The standardization organization ITU is set to lay the groundwork this year. If everything goes as planned, 2020 could be a realistic date for the rollout – signaling the arrival of the networked future. Telecommunications companies are making a huge promise: 5G should be nothing less than the technological backbone of the 'Gigabit Society'.
While one of its most exciting benefits is the ability to transfer greater volumes of data, 5G will be far more than just an update to the existing network. It will boast considerably greater coverage and improved performance it comparison to its predecessors. Infrastructure providers are currently speaking of bandwidths of up to ten gigabits per second and latency of less than a millisecond. Compare that with the fastest LTE standard, which achieves 0.3 gigabits per second.
However, in CRN magazine, Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn recently revealed, "What makes 5G so special is less the increased performance, but rather the doors it opens to new business models." According to Jacobfeuerborn, an advantage of 5G is that, in contrast to 4G, it can deal with the specific requirements of sensors, machines, and people alike. While LTE provides all the clients on a network with the same features, 5G addresses each user individually. "5G can reduce the effort required, and therefore decrease power consumption, while the sensors can function for a longer period of time," explains Jacobfeuerborn.
An additional benefit is more attractive tariffs for the Internet of Things. This is an important feature because, according to Osvaldo Gonsa, Head of Wireless Signal Technologies at Continental, "We will not pay the current tariffs for Car2Car communications." An example of this is when a car shares sensor data to effectively "see through" the vehicle in front of it and check if it is safe to overtake. But ultimately, when machines or cars communicate with one another in this way, someone has to pay for the traffic.
5G could also be used in future smart city projects. German research organization Fraunhofer FOKUS is currently working on a test environment named 5G Berlin. Using this model, companies and research institutes can test whether their products are 5G ready ahead of its commercial launch and before the standardization process has been completed. This enables them to check if the products work seamlessly with other components in a 5G environment.
The Chinese telecom company ZTE has already unveiled the world's first 5G cell phone . With download speeds of one gigabit per second, the phone enables you to watch 360-degree panoramic VR video and live-stream high-resolution videos.
Fast, secure, and reliable business communications and the Internet of Things require intelligent networks and interoperability. From IP-based communications technology to M2M and telematics, at the CeBIT Communications & Networks exhibition, visitors will find the right connection.