According to Gartner, 20.4 billion IoT devices will be in use worldwide by 2020, and more than 65 percent of enterprises will adopt IoT products. IoT devices are expected to generate more than half of the world’s data by 2025 according to IDC. Considering the current growth of the Internet and the arrival of eMBB in 5G, transmitting that IoT data will require 5G wireless capacity that is three orders of magnitude greater than the existing 4G networks to avoid overloading the network.

In part 1 of the “Three Services from 5G” blog series, I covered the three key features of 5G that are outlined in the 3GPP Release 15 specification:

·       Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), which involves capacity enhancements
·       Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), which has exacting requirements on latency and reliability
·       Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), which provides connections to large numbers of devices that intermittently transmit small amounts of traffic.

In part 1, I also discussed how eMBB can improve video conferencing and advance new services like augmented reality and virtual reality. In part 2 of this series, I addressed latency and reliability through the URLLC service which would allow web scale companies to set up the network services they need to match their newer application services.

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Now I’m going to address the opportunities and challenges related to massive machine type communications (mMTC). 5G supports these features:

·       High density of devices (about 200000 in 1M sq. km)
·       Low data rate (approx. 1-100 Kbps, esp. uplink)
·       Asynchronous access (accessing the network sporadically)
·       Low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints with long life battery (potentially more than 10 years)
·       Cost efficiency
·       Low power consumption
·       Long time availability

5G and distributed intelligence

For web players, the concept of distributed intelligence created by ubiquitous sensors is key. Depending on the application, web players can use automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) solutions to determine the device, operating system, and level of security is being on-boarded. Usually this process can be performed through zero-touch automation. IoT devices are inherently low cost, which may mean a less robust, less secure software and IP stack. You need to security profile each new device correctly to ensure that you’re using proper and sufficient security policies to protect these remote devices. And inaccurate device profile can come from new vendors with nonstandard discovery and profiling mechanisms. Or they may even re-use generic hardware and software profiles, such as Raspberry Pi. AI and ML driven automation from web scale players could drive how best to securely on-board these endpoints. If you do a Google search for “IoT attacks,” you can see how IoT compromises could bring down even the best-intentioned applications.

After an application is secure, you can propose creative solutions using AI and ML to unlock the data sources you’re collecting from the thousands or millions of sources. The edge computing architecture I mentioned in part 2 brings computing intelligence closer to IoT applications, so the data stays local. The mMTC in 5G has transformative potential that goes beyond just infrastructure or manufacturing systems. Web scale companies could leverage their in-house proficiencies in data mining to innovate a number of industries. Here are a few ideas.


Enable instant inventory updates, enhanced product security, and no check-out lines, along with a more personalized shopping experience.


Correlate data from patient records and images, on-line medical devices, and other sources to advance patient diagnoses/outcomes using web-scale AI solutions and cloud analysis.

Smart cities

Transform traffic system congestion, public transit, and public safety including first responders and municipal services to enhance the quality of life in your city.

Connected vehicles

Make travel safer and more enjoyable for drivers and passengers for the automotive and transportation industry.

Industry 4.0

Enhance factories, buildings, machines, and electrical grids to be safer, smarter, and more efficient. You could easily streamline processes, monitor supply chains, or calibrate equipment. For example, the latest light detection and ranging (LiDAR) cameras create machine vision, which makes visual measurement possible, so you can see inventory and production defects.

For web scale companies, 5G virtualization, bandwidth, latency, and IoT scalability offers opportunities to create new features and additional revenue.
·       Learn more about 5G in our product deep dive
·       Read more about Cisco 5G solutions 
·       Watch our 5G demo


Dave Dukinfield

CX Product Manager

Customer Experience SP Practice