CIO upfront: Getting C-level buy-in for 5G
- 28 August, 2017 10:00
5G technology will be an enhanced platform for emergent technologies such as the Internet of Things.
New Zealand has seen strong growth in the adoption of 4G mobile phones – with 4G subscriptions making up more than 40 per cent of total mobile subscriptions with 3G at 55 per cent, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report. In 2022, we predict there will be around 80 per cent 4G LTE subscriptions over total mobile subscriptions and around 15 per cent for 3G subscriptions.
Whilst there is much more capacity and capabilities to come from 4G, it’s not too early for CIOs to be thinking about and preparing for 5G and IoT.
IoT is already a reality as many use cases work well on 4G, but as the core networks evolve towards 5G we will see new services being deployed more quickly and efficiently. And there is still plenty of growth opportunities for enterprise – research found that only 14 per cent of New Zealand enterprises have deployed an IoT solution. Of those that had or are planning to implement an IoT solution, 70 per cent believe that IoT will be transformational or strategic to their business.
For consumers, 5G promises to drive unparalleled connectivity and immersive experiences: imagine a world of interactive sporting events where an away All Blacks game will feel like it’s being played at home via your smart device and virtual reality.
For enterprise and industry, 5G and IoT will allow organisations to explore new ideas and evolved ways of working to drive efficiencies, productivity, safety and new business models.
There is essentially three initial classification of use cases for 5G, two are related to IoT;
Enhanced mobile broadband
Here use cases will require ultra-fast Broadband or high data rates, connection density and mobility. This can include human centric use cases such as access to multi-media content, new stadium, and venue experiences, 4K/8K streaming, Mobile AR/VR gaming and immersive media.
Critical machine type comms
These scenarios will require ultra-reliable and resilient network architectures, instantaneous connectivity, and ultra-low latency. Examples here include: Remote medical surgery, wireless control of industrial manufacturing or production processes and autonomous vehicles.
Here the capability requirement is low cost, low energy, small data volumes and connectivity for millions of devices. Examples are, fleet management, smart agriculture, logistics, smart cities and smart metering.
The Ericsson Mobility Report predicts over 500 million 5G subscriptions globally by 2022, with 28 million in the region South East Asia and Oceania, with rollout commencing first in metro areas. We believe that New Zealand, Australia and Singapore will be among the early adopters of 5G.
The recently released report, Accelerating a Connected New Zealand, from the IoT Alliance New Zealand, shows that the better use of IoT could create at least $2.2 billion in net economic benefit for New Zealand over the next 10 years.
In New Zealand, we see the opportunity to commence projects now in three key areas: Transport, through connected vehicles; agriculture, especially vineyards, dairy farming and water monitoring; and tourism, which could be related to improving public safety, mapping services and other location-based service applications. Commencing projects in these sectors will test opportunities and lay the basis for expansion when 5G becomes available.
As with achieving any support from the C-Level, tangible business benefits of 5G, such as increased productivity or new revenue streams, would need to be shown
There’s a common misconception that 5G is just faster, however it offers much more. Where 4G focused on providing improved speeds and capacity for individual mobile phone users, 5G is being developed for industrial applications and will be a major technology in industrial digitalisation. Some examples of industrial digitalisation are autonomous driving, remote robotic surgery, and the use of augmented reality in maintenance and repair situations.
Compared with 4G, 5G will allow more users access to faster, more responsive wireless data connections within dense areas thereby opening opportunities that previously could not be achieved.
5G will provide industries with new capabilities because of the improved features of 5G (e.g. ultra-low latency or massive IoT support). With ultra-reliable, low latency wireless connectivity, time, critical closed loop processes can be implemented.
An example of this is production line robots under the control of centralised compute platforms running sophisticated algorithms. To do this today, each robot would require less flexible, dedicated fibre solutions thereby imposing limits such as mobility and restricting future production line re-configurations necessary to adapt to the changing competitive landscape.
More broadly, the capacity and performance enabled by 5G will allow things such as high resolution cameras and sensing devices to leverage the ultra-responsive 5G feedback capability to drive the development of autonomous or remote operation in a wide range of applications and industries.
The challenges 5G will address
5G technology will be an enhanced platform for emergent technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT). 5G will supercharge connectivity currently available on 4G for massive numbers of connected devices.
4G is well suited for mobile broadband today as well as for low power wide area IOT applications but would struggle to deliver the capacity to support large volumes of devices simultaneously demanding high throughput data streams, such as high resolution video – particularly upstream.
In addition to this, consider a case where many of these devices had also super low latency requirements to achieve the real-time feedback as part of a production process. These are the real-life challenges that 5G is designed to address.
5G will enable innovation across all sectors with the unique combination of capabilities it will deliver. Key capabilities include: data rates up to 100 times faster than today’s networks; network latency lowered by a factor of five; mobile data volumes 1,000 times greater than today; the ability to connect to 110 times more devices; and stretching of battery life of cellular devices to 10 years or more.
The application of 5G technology as part of a digital transformation strategy, can drive organisational productivity and efficiency as well as being agile enough to predict and respond to a changing supply chain and hyper-competition.
As with achieving any support from the C-Level, tangible business benefits of 5G, such as increased productivity or new revenue streams, would need to be shown.
For example, in mining, productivity can be greatly improved if autonomous machinery can continue working in dangerous areas, such as in a blast site straight after a controlled explosion, sooner than can be achieved today with human operators. In transportation, fuel savings and increased operational up-time (due to reduced maintenance time) can be realised with autonomous/remote operation enabled by 5G connectivity.
It is examples such as these that can be easily valued, together with the less tangible opportunity to explore ideas that have not yet even been thought of, that demonstrate business improvements and opportunities far greater than the actual investment will persuade the C-suite of the benefits of 5G investment.
The 5G business potential report shows globally 5G enabled industry digitalisation can create an estimated US$1.2 trillion in revenues by 2026.
Like all new technologies 5G will follow the well-trodden path of technology demonstrations followed by limited trials, early deployments and then finally mass deployment. We expect some limited activity in 2018 in different markets as standardisation firms up and the ecosystem begins to solidify.
We expect mass deployment to really commence in 2020. The role for CIOs now is to work with telecommunication operators to understand the 5G opportunity and look for ways that these new technologies can enhance your businesses.
Emilio Romeo is CEO and managing director of Ericsson ANZ.