5G – fifth generation mobile networks are set to launch commercially by next year, 2019, some fixed wireless use cases in early adopter markets even by end of this year. While the race for 5G is at full speed there remains a critical debate about 5G’s “killer app” – what it will primarily be used for and what the business model around 5G will look like.
There is no doubt that in the future consumers will experience much higher data rates on their smartphones with 5G. It will deliver a quantum leap in capacity and data rates by a new radio system that utilizes much larger radio spectrum and achieves new heights in spectral efficiency. In addition to this “more of the same”, 5G will about far more than just watching cat videos on YouTube at much lower production costs for the underlying connection – which is already very good news to network operators. The true business value – and the upside potential for operators – will be about the substantial impact 5G will generate for industries.
This new business area will be enabled by the 5G network architecture providing so-called “network slicing”. Slices are virtual networks tailored to the specific needs of different applications. The multitude of different virtual network slices all run on the same physical network infrastructure. With that approach every application gets precisely the quality of service and connectivity characteristics it needs, such as assured throughput, peak data rate, coverage, reliability and network delay. This programmability transforms the network from a best effort consumer service engine to a predictable connectivity hub for basically any kind of industrial use case able to meet the most stringent and extreme connectivity requirements.
You may have heard statements like these a couple of times before, but you may also lack the real world proofs behind them. Therefore, let’s have a look at some of the “killer apps” of 5G in various industries by way of real projects in which Nokia is collaborating with leading companies in their respective industries who are equally as convinced that 5G will bring significant value add for their respective business models.
5G for automotive – new driving experiences
5G will offer new possibilities for connected cars such as providing higher quality online infotainment or the improved networking between cars and infrastructure for automated driving functions. In a Proof of Concept, Nokia and the BMW Group have been able to show some dedicated use cases, enabled by 5G network slicing. Based on the contrasting services’ characteristics, we have defined three exemplary slices for usage in the automotive context. A first slice is used to update HD maps by guaranteeing a defined data rate over longer time intervals. A second slice is focused on the exchange of time-sensitive data for the inter-vehicle data exchange known as vehicle-to-vehicle communication with high reliability and low transmission latency, which will be an important enabler for enhanced automated driving. A third slice is optimized with the best possible data quality for the streaming of videos in HD quality for infotainment, which can be played on the rear seat entertainment displays. Network slicing technology will ensure that the exchange of safety critical data always gets the highest priority, enabling new connectivity and information services that are not possible today. Experts of BMW Group Research are already today developing solutions to exploit the potential of future 5G networks in the car. Beyond this concrete example, the telecom industry and the automotive industry are coming together in the 5G Automotive Association which fosters the utilization of 5G in the automotive context.
5G for logistics – new processes in complex environments
A major trial is currently being run by the Hamburg Port Authority, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia to test the capabilities of the 5G architecture in an 8,000-hectare industrial area at the Port of Hamburg. The trial is being carried out under the auspices of the 5G.MoNArch (5G Mobile Network Architecture) project led by Nokia. The complex logistics and connected infrastructure within a sea port like Hamburg’s are fundamental to the harbor’s operations and requires a well-designed ICT infrastructure that will face increasing challenges. By 2025, Hamburg will be processing about 18 million containers each year, as well as tens of thousands of trucks per day, self-driving vehicles and about 100,000 sensors, all sending and retrieving data to ensure fluent processes. This scenario calls for a new kind of connectivity. The main requirements of any application in the port include resilience (guaranteed availability, even in the case of failures), security and support for the diverse requirements of the different use cases. In the current trial a variety of applications are being enabled by dedicated network slices, meeting each application’s stringent needs. These include better traffic flow by connected, intelligent transport systems; more secure operations using augmented reality based expert assistance at construction sites; and water gates as well as improved pollution control by connected sensors on moving barges. In a nutshell, the 5G network architecture will play a key role in managing a complex infrastructure in the most efficient way.
5G for Industry 4.0 – new heights in productivity by making factories mobile
One of the most important enablers of the smart factory will be vastly increased connectivity that will link machines, processes, robots and people to create more versatile and more dynamic production capabilities. In modern factories - walls, rooves and the factory floor are the only fixed components. The rest is mobile, with flexible, movable plug-and-play capabilities enabling additional machines and the plant to be connected via wireless connectivity. Today wireline is predominantly used in factories providing the high performance and reliability needed for automation, but lacking flexibility to rapidly meet changing production demands. 5G is the first wireless technology with the high throughput, low latency and extreme reliability that can replace wireline connectivity in a factory. It will allow for entirely new use cases in industrial automation, collaboration and safety. In a joint project Nokia and Bosch have shown that by coupling advanced interactive robots with wireless perimeter intrusion detection, the safety of factory employees can be significantly enhanced. But this is just a start: 5G network slicing will provide end-to-end quality of service and isolation for different applications in a factory to meet stringent demands for reliability and latency. For example 5G can achieve simultaneous ultra-low latency of less than 1 millisecond and 99.999% reliability, making it the only mobile technology suitable for Industry 4.0 factory applications. This makes the inherent flexibility and ease of deployment of wireless connectivity available to high-end industrial automation applications for the first time.
The newly founded 5G-ACIA (5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation) accelerates the collaboration between the manufacturing and telecom industries in order make 5G ready for Industry 4.0.
Automotive, logistics and Industry 4.0 are going to be three “killer apps” for 5G
In a nutshell 5G will significantly impact at least three large industries. This isn’t theory or wishful thinking: these industries are trialing the capabilities of the 5G network architecture to enhance driving experiences and connect mobile machines, vehicles and sensors, all resulting in a wide array of new possibilities.
Contact us to learn more about the concrete actions ongoing in the 5G ecosystem, as we continue to turn use cases and associated business opportunities into practice.
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