Why 5G will need to be funded by the IoT

The continued explosion of smart mobile devices for connected users with increasing appetite for high-definition video, is fuelling a surge in mobile data traffic worldwide. Service providers coping with such growth need to find new ways to monetise their network investments and develop new business models with OTT providers, Enterprise and Industrial services. As we approach the 5th Generation (5G) of Mobile Networks from 2020, the opportunity for Service Providers to monteize their network investments on the next wave of global digitalisation with the Internet of Things (IoT) could not be greater.

According to Cisco’s latest Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) report, the volume of mobile data traffic will expand by another seven times over the next four years, reaching nearly 12 billion mobile devices and connections and generating 49 exabytes of mobile traffic by 2021.

By then, we will also see the industry transitioning to the 5th Generation (5G) of Mobile Networks.

With a more diverse range of Radio Access technologies, potentially ranging from those capable of 1 Gbps and ultra-low latency of 1 millisecond (ms), to those designed for mass deployment and multi-year battery life, 5G will complement, or even supplement, broadband connectivity and change the end user experience.

The average traffic per 5G connection, for instance, will be 5x relative to 4G connections.

A whole new digital infrastructure will be created to support high and ultra-high definition video and rich media telecommunications. This will increase the use of cloud applications and storage as well as promote the next stage of the web – the tactile Internet.

A tactile Internet, characterized by low latency, high availability, high bandwidth capacity and security, is necessary for virtual reality and emerging applications such as autonomous cars and remote tele-surgery.

While 4G has been driven by device proliferation and dynamic information access, Cisco’s VNI report reveals that 5G will mostly be driven by IoT, with resources allocated based largely on “awareness of content, user, and location.”

The rapid growth in smarter end-user devices and M2M connections is also a clear indicator that IoT adoption is on the rise.

By 2019, IoT connections will surpass smartphones, tablets and PCs combined, and by 2021, account for 638 million modules compared to 381 million for all other devices.

5G’s the next step in digitization

5G facilitates new services, each with unique needs, delivered by integrating a range of different types of connectivity into unified service delivery networks, and offering the unique characteristics the services require.

Combined with a virtual and cloud infrastructure, intelligent edge services and a distributed computing model, IoT users will be able to derive insights from the data generated by billions of devices.

These new insights will enable many industries to find new ways to leverage technology, ranging from connected cars, home and office security and automation, smart metering and utilities, maintenance, building automation, automotive, healthcare and consumer electronics. Consumers, businesses, and governments will be able to connect to and control everything around them.

Businesses can use real-time information monitoring to deploy new video-based security systems, while hospitals and healthcare professionals can remotely monitor the progress of their patients.

What’s key about 5G is that it isn’t about faster speeds or a new technology for service providers to upgrade their network. It’s the next step on their digitalization journey.

For IoT to thrive, the mobile industry must come together to ensure the next generation of networks can support a wide range of services and devices and seamlessly interoperate with one another.

They must find ways to monetize the higher usage of mobile data traffic while developing profitable business cases to support capital infrastructure expenditures.

The scale of 5G’s deployment over time is likely to see IoT go mainstream and take off in a big way.

5G networks, combined with IoT, can transform the world.

Research Sources:


Dirk Wolter

Head of Mobile Networks

Asia Pacific Region