Research Hub > 5G Is the Future of the Internet of Things

December 09, 2020

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3 min

5G Is the Future of the Internet of Things

Better bandwidth, throughput and latency will make it possible to truly mature IoT.

Steven Falconer

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As we anticipate the expansion of 5G networking, many of us look forward to its high-speed connectivity — eventually up to 10 gigabits per second. Others are eager for its expanded bandwidth, capable of supporting a massive number of devices. Still, others have an eye on 5G’s ultralow latency, taking minimal time to move data from device to cloud and back again.

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The real appeal of 5G, I believe, will be in the powerful combination of all these advantages. I see 5G as a foundational platform that will enable emerging technologies, particularly the Internet of Things, to fully mature. Although plenty of IoT devices are on the 4G spectrum, it lacks the capability to support the device explosion that many see as the future of IoT. Those same limitations don’t apply to the 5G spectrum.

5G Will Introduce New Use Cases and Improve Familiar Ones

Better throughput and greater bandwidth will readily advance IoT applications for consumers, such as smart assistants or augmented reality and virtual reality for retail. Many of the applications we enjoy now — asking questions of Google Assistant or using AR to see how a new couch will look in your living room — will become more sophisticated. That’s because the data transmissions will be so much faster and because the amount of data available to improve these applications will multiply exponentially.

We’ll also see 5G increase the number of sensors powering smart city technologies, such as utilities and streetlights. Again, here’s where we’ll see applications that we might now consider in their infancy start to rapidly evolve. With 5G, for instance, a city could maintain continuous video recording on municipal vehicles, which would allow it to glean all sorts of data to inform and improve services.

In healthcare, 5G applications will deliver dramatic improvements, in part because of the networking technology’s extremely low latency. That quality will support use cases such as remote surgery, in which doctors use robotics to perform surgery on a patient in a different physical location. We’ll also see growth in patient monitoring capabilities, which are already improving care for elderly individuals and empowering patients of all ages with data about their own health.

Where the IoT Meets 5G, Data Becomes a Key Outcome

The real value of 5G may be that it makes possible a world in which data — and everything related to it — takes on unprecedented speed and depth. More devices generate more data, while an advanced network gives us greater ability to leverage that data.

We could say the same about IoT itself. It comprises connected devices, yet much of its potential comes from the data that it generates, along with the resulting insights and automation that are changing the way we make decisions and run our businesses.

Soon, 5G will marry all these capabilities together into a single, transformational platform. It will be a few years before we see 5G everywhere, but it’s not too early to factor these advances and improvements into your mid- to long-term planning.