2019 is shaping up to be a remarkable time in the 5G technology global roll-out. With its higher data rate, ultra-reliable and lower latency connectivity, and massive scale of machine-to-machine communication, 5G carries enormous potential.

With 5G and cellular, consumers will enjoy UHD 4K/8K video streaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, immersive entertainment, and interactive gaming – a great personal experience.

But, how will 5G boost the industrial market? Will it translate to big opportunities in the next decade across manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, utilities, transportation, and other verticals? Let’s explore how 5G will accelerate industrial IoT (IIoT).

Diversity in Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT offers lots of opportunities. The use cases span the spectrum: from indoor to outdoor, less demanding to mission-critical, data rate from dozens of bps to gbps, device motion from fixed to mobility, and power source from button battery to high voltage.

Some of the most common scenarios for IIoT include predictive maintenance, smart metering, asset tracking, and fleet management. 5G will create continued diversity and expansion for the possibilities of IIoT.

5G Inspires Untapped Frontiers

Many industrial IoT use cases mandate wide mobility, low latency, and mission-critical reliability, such as mobile robot control in production automation and autonomous vehicles in open pit mining. These use cases rely on wireless access at 50ms to 1ms latency and service reliability from 5 nines to 6 nines.

4G/LTE has attempted to address these use cases,but has often failed due to unsatisfactory performance. 5G’s combination of ultra-reliable and low latency connection will extend industrial IoT to unconquered spaces.

Managing the Enterprise 5G Network

Typically, enterprise IT is responding to the business demand from Operational Technology (OT) and mandates security, integration, visibility, control, and compatibility. In this scenario, 5G is not about “what,” but about “how.” IT needs to consider the right approach to bring 5G to the enterprise and decide whether to co-manage with the service provider (SP) or self-manage. The experience of IT in managing Industrial Ethernet and Wi-Fi may not hold when it comes to 5G. IT will likely require OT’s partnership to address complexity, security, integration, and other new challenges that 5G presents.

Multiple Access Technologies Coexisting

What are Cisco customers saying? We’re seeing an eagerness to move to 5G, but also concerns around coverage and costs. The video streaming and interactive gaming we mentioned before are going to gobble up data. And data = $$$.

While excited for the coming of 5G, customers realize that other access technologies will continue their irreplaceable roles in various capacities:

  • Manufacturing needs strictly deterministic time synchronization for discrete automation. Industrial Ethernet is the only option today offering TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) capability. HD video surveillance and AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) operation around the warehouse requires higher throughput and full wireless coverage. Wi-Fi 6 is the more flexible and economical option in this case.
  • Mining and oil/gas customers want to connect production fleets, trucks, assets, and workers at remote sites. It might make sense to use private LTE to solve for the lack of public cellular coverage.
  • Utility advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) demands millions of electricity meters get connected at lower costs. RF-Mesh is commonly adopted by running on unlicensed ISM bands and resilient self-formed topology.

The beauty of access technologies is that they don’t – and won’t – compete with each other, but instead work together to meet the diverse requirements of IIoT from different angles. To find success, customers should marry 5G and Wi-Fi 6 to existing technologies, as driven by use cases.

Cisco is committed to helping those with secured access technologies embrace the advent of both 5G and Wi-Fi 6. We are constantly exploring use cases that support future technology development and how to achieve the best outcomes. Our latest industrial wireless portfolio, including the Cisco IR1101 Integrated Services Router Rugged, is a prime example of building for the future. To learn more:



Liz Centoni

Executive Vice President

Chief Customer Experience Officer