Home Telecom IoT and 5G: A Perfect Match?

IoT and 5G: A Perfect Match?

5G enabled phone with IoT on it over a city

5G and IoT—a match made in technology heaven. Match or codependent enabler? However it’s defined, 5G is the key enabler for IoT technology success. IoT connectivity is not useful when networks cannot deliver reliable, high-speed access. The 5G wireless network fulfills the high communication level requirements demanded by an ever-expanding array of IoT connected devices.

IoT devices are designed to connect everyday objects like televisions, computers, cell phones, and home appliances. IoT enables connectivity so devices can be controlled automatically using sensors that constantly relay information to servers so consumers can remotely or automatically control smart IoT devices. Servers continuously analyze data and determine the appropriate action. For example, if a person has left their furnace off and the temperature drops below freezing, users can access their smart IoT furnace using an app on their cell phone to set the temperature. Once the server processes the message, the furnace system is updated and reset to heat.

IoT technology enables quick and remote response for consumers and emergency responders—including police, fire, and military needs. Critical operation support using IoT connected devices enables both a fast and accurate response. 5G enables IoT to create new business opportunities, new connected devices and services, and it powers the growth of security related organizations. IoT is the future, and 5G can make it happen effectively, securely, and reliably.

Key Takeaways

  • What is IoT technology?
  • How does 5G enable IoT?
  • Learn how 5G technology empowers IoT growth and use expansion.
  • Discover the features of 5G that enable improved IoT.
  • What about data security and privacy?
  • Find out the benefits that 5G and IoT provide for consumers and businesses.

This guide describes how the features of 5G enable the future of IoT technology for consumers and businesses, as well as the impact on data security and privacy for users.

What is IoT Technology?

IoT is not a single technology used alone, but a group of integrated technologies used for interconnected communication. IoT technology includes specific features that allow devices to provide services to private and business consumers.

Characteristics of IoT include:

  • Interconnectivity between both virtual and physical objects
  • Things-related service where function depends on the connected device
  • Heterogeneity or the ability to connect devices regardless of platform, hardware, or software differences
  • Dynamic change management by different objects or keeping connectivity when devices are in various status states

Examples of IoT technology for private consumers include smart appliances, self-driving, autonomous or partially autonomous cars, refrigerators that make grocery lists, and thermostats that respond to outdoor temperatures and change settings as needed. From a cell phone to a car to a home appliance, users can control interconnected devices from anywhere with connectivity.

For businesses, IoT means M2M (machine to machine) communication and interaction. Robots and manufacturing equipment that not only measure their service but respond to each other via connected messaging systems and sensors. For example, smart meters for utility services save both time and costs as the data uploads automatically without an employee having to physically drive to each location and read meter values. Currently, many restaurant businesses operate remotely controlled or autonomous meal delivery vehicles.

For government agencies and municipalities, IoT connected devices maintain traffic flow management and measure sewer levels and environmental pollution. Smart grids are popular to manage energy consumption and understand power needs and outages. Are you sensing “big brother” from George Orwell’s famous novel 1984? As IoT expands its reach, controlling and monitoring everything with sensors and data communication remotely is a reality.

How Does 5G Enable IoT?

5G provides fast, stable, and secure connectivity for IoT. 5G is the ground floor or operating network that can power IoT growth and technology effectiveness. 5G networks allow for multiple connected devices creating an IoT ecosystem that enables high performance, low latency, and reduced costs to operate.

5G enables and empowers IoT by:

  • Using small cells to transfer large amounts of data faster
  • Reducing overall power usage
  • Speeding up transmission with less latency
  • Enabling the ability to implement virtual networks or network slicing to create specific channels for critical use needs (fire, police, emergency, and military)
  • Allowing multiple connected devices

How Does 5G Fuel IoT Growth and Expansion?

The most significant fuel 5G gives IoT expansion is network slicing. Network slicing creates subnets that provide connectivity for specific needs. Device connections can be prioritized and those with high priority are processed regardless of network load. Businesses serving emergency responders and military groups can create apps and device connections that enhance public safety and the safety of personnel.

Businesses increase process automation internally and on factory floors. M2M communication helps in reducing costs and improving product quality. AI and ML systems enable more effective communication between humans and machines that help businesses better serve customers. Factory floor and manufacturing businesses can expand IoT use to monitor product health during creation and shipping.

The network speed and low latency of the 5G network enable the growth and expand the usage of IoT. The ability to ensure coverage in every corner of the factory, office, warehouse, or any building is essential for ensuring IoT connectivity. A HetNet design platform such as DASCAD is invaluable for studying the coverage needed in any building and developing an effective design for implementation.

What About Data Security and Privacy?

5G networks are secure, using a variety of methods that are continuously being updated to meet the current need. The security issue with IoT comes from the diversity of connected devices and their inherent platforms and hardware. Not only does the cyber-attack surface expand with each connection and device, but so does the difficulty of securing the messaging from device to server.

There are effective security methods in place, but there are at least four significant concerns:

  • Device compatibility differences
  • A constant need for monitoring
  • Ongoing security upgrades and changes
  • Remote server security

Providing effective security that’s compatible between the vast and uncontrolled variety of devices is complex. Add to that the types of communication used by each device and the remote server adds to the vast problem of securing IoT communications.

Network security for remote servers exists in many forms and has a constant need for security monitoring and upgrades. Keeping up with new security issues alone is a complicated task but keeping up with device, communication, and network security needs is time-consuming and mission critical for consumers, businesses, and government agencies.

IoT enables the extension of security threats into the physical domain. So, not only the computer or technology side but the human side. For example, security threats that disable life-sustaining devices in hospitals, take over the operation of a car, or damage property such as homes, offices, and buildings.

The scope of the IoT security threat propels the security business. In the coming years, to support the number of IoT connections supported by 5G, security technology will have to improve. New security protocols and types will need to be devised to ensure public safety in an IoT world. A security related business boom is already actively in play and growing fast.

Benefits of a 5G Supported IoT Technology

The benefits of a 5G enabled IoT ecosystem are vast. IoT for private consumers allows for saving significant time and money. IoT provides convenience for consumers, allowing them to manage life tasks from a smartphone. Additionally, service appointments for furnaces or other home appliances can be scheduled by the device and added to your calendar. It’s like communicating directly with appliances to ensure the appointment time works for you. IoT devices take over the mundane, time-consuming acts of managing a life. Need groceries? A smart refrigerator texts a shopping list. Amazon Alexa places orders for consumers without intervention.

Think about autonomous cars. An autonomous car can drive the family to a vacation spot by simply programming in the location. Family members can rest, sleep, or watch the scenery going by without worrying about managing traffic. Need gas? The car pulls over as requested. Had too much to drink? No longer are drunk drivers a danger to others, an autonomous car delivers them home without endangering others.

Other benefits of 5G empowered IoT are scalability across business operations, improved M2M communication, and reduced operating costs. IoT connected devices manage office environments by turning off lights and utilities when not needed. Companies save money and reduce their energy use with IoT devices fully powered by the speed and reliability of a 5G network.

M2M communication improvements are based on the speed and reliability of the 5G connection. Fewer communication interruptions result in a more consistent and accurate communication sequence between machines. The smoother the workflow, the higher the productivity and quality.

The speed, low latency, and reliability of 5G combined with unlimited device connectivity enables the growth of a resilient, secure, IoT network of connected communication. IoT devices provide connectivity between the cyber and physical worlds for humans and machines. Security businesses will thrive as the industry works to manage the security concerns for the growing number of remote IoT connections and device types.

5G saves on energy use that will power environmental recovery. Enabling IoT technology with 5G capabilities ensures humanity thrives personally and in business while rebuilding the environment that we all call home. Imagine the possibilities! 5G and IoT may be the match that keeps the world moving along and communicating both effectively and reliably regardless of location.