How Businesses Should Prep for the Coming Ubiquitous 5G

Telecommunication companies and others are spending billions of dollars to make 5G ubiquitous, for smartphones and the Internet of Things. Speed is one benefit of 5G but also important is that its high bandwidth enables more capacity, which allows manufacturing plants and facilities to capture more data and communications. That is a game changer for a manufacturing plant with hundreds of thousands of signals from robots, HVAC and lighting systems and machinery that communicate to an asset management system.

Forbes gives the example of a $12 bearing in an Amazon warehouse that, pre-5G, could not be monitored and, if it failed, would be a “fairly expensive problem.” “The ability to do that cost-effectively just wasn’t there before, but 5G enables companies to be more efficient and connected at any given point in time,” it says.

Then there’s the issue of latency. Before 5G, wind farms and solar farms, typically located in remote areas, had limited connectivity. But 5G gives “the wireless capability to look at a thousand wind turbines … connect wirelessly to every one of those turbines and collect data electronically.”

With 5G, elimination of latency means it’s possible to keep track of solar farms from Washington to Dallas, with 1,500 places in between. Once collected, “AI and machine learning change the dynamics of how the received data is interpreted, which makes things more reliable and available.” To put this in context, “20 years ago in the enterprise asset management sector, half a second of latency or a quarter of a second of latency would be enough interruption of a signal to white screen or blue screen an application.”

Today, Forbes notes, “latency is measured in milliseconds” and, with 5G enabling edge computing and AI, latency can get into the 1 millisecond range.

Forbes reports that the future impact of 5G include “fewer accidents on the roads because of this interconnectivity” of cars and “much more interaction with machines, smart devices and any type of asset that has an IP address.” It predicts that, “enterprise asset management solutions will also grow tremendously as a result of 5G.”

It suggests that businesses prepare by following these few steps: “ensure IT project systems are compatible with and can transition to 5G as it becomes available; establish a good relationship with your company’s telecom provider to plan accordingly, and be prepared to switch to 5G when it becomes available in your area; increase protection and maintain security defenses to keep up with network expansion; take the right precautions to ensure this will not affect your customer experience [and] revisit your privacy policy and adjust it as needed to avoid any issues with the 5G migration and customer experience.”