5G drives the real-time enterprise

5G has the business world abuzz with its possibilities. It’s expected to provide the connectivity that powers everything from autonomous cars to humanoid robots to smart homes. According to research by Ericsson, 70 percent of companies plan to have 5G use cases in production by 2021, with public transport, safety, agriculture and energy leading the way. So what are some of the most compelling use cases?

Better broadband where it’s needed

5G extended mobile broadband (eMBB) can enable real-time, 3D collaboration at industrial sites. A maintenance engineer on an oil rig or in a remotely located factory could get help from an expert at a central HQ using 3D augmented reality (AR) goggles, such as Microsoft Hololens or Oculus Rift transmitting HD video imagery.

5G provides the high-speed connectivity, and the data is then prioritized as it’s backhauled over fiber broadband links using SD-WAN. Edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) at the factory or oil rig can give AR headsets some local decision-making power, enabling them to react, process and protect the data in real time.

Another potentially significant use case is fixed wireless access (FWA), particularly for temporary sites, where it can facilitate fast, massive content downloads and uploads over short distances. This will be extremely useful to enable ships, trains and airplanes to quickly retrieve up-to-date navigational information and entertainment data from video-on-demand (VOD) servers and share catering replenishment and engine data as they dock, land and pull up at stations.

Music and sport venues and retail stores will also be able to enhance omnichannel entertainment and shopping experiences with the addition of HD multimedia content. All this can be done with 5G on the same network and via one local antenna.

Transforming futuristic mobility

5G has often been cited as the missing piece of the puzzle in making autonomous cars a mainstream reality. As part of this, network slicing will enhance data flows to and from cars for entertainment, security and other purposes. A 5G-enabled vehicle could feature multiple screens inside, with a driver’s screen highlighting crashes that have just occurred around the next corner, while the backseat screens could transmit video-on-demand entertainment for passengers.

The car would pick up traffic data from roadside units and the smart city network as well as sensors on other cars and pedestrians to improve safety for all road users. Using Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), the 5G network can be divided into slices with different Quality of Service (QoS) per slice to service different content needs and priorities. In this way, 5G will enable reliable, real-time vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communications.

Enhancing public safety in general

It’s not just our roads that will be safer. Using 5G connected IoT sensors and CCTV cameras in our homes, workplaces and cities, governments can improve emergency situation responses. In the event of an emergency, like an earthquake or tsunami, sensors could transmit an alert to the 5G antenna. Data from millions of sensors can be gathered and analyzed in real time by a computer close to the 5G antenna using AI and edge computing.

A human decision maker would then issue an alert to the public via their mobile devices to evacuate the area. Meanwhile, 5G connectivity will also be able to power real-time analysis of the capacity of local transport to get people to safety and provide proactive guidance and situation monitoring.

5G performance enabling new use cases

Low latency, high performance use cases

Low latency is one of the biggest selling points of 5G. This makes it perfect for enabling automated guided vehicles (AGVs) in industrial environments. An AGV can transport materials, monitor a site for safety and security issues, like break-ins or fires, and transmit data to a driverless vehicle on the ground.

Using network slicing, a drone could fly a set route on network slice number one to scan for problems. Using a second, more secure network slice, the drone could then send an HD video of the suspected fire to a human operator. The specialist could then take over piloting control of the drone to investigate further using a third network slice that requires even more bandwidth and lower latency. A driverless vehicle could even be deployed to extinguish the flames to minimize the risk to first responders.

Empowering verticals

5G has the potential to transform pretty much any vertical, but some industries are better set than others to reap the benefits and revenues it promises. According to research by AD Little and Ericsson, 5G-enabled industry digitization revenues for ICT players are forecast to reach $1.3 trillion in 2026, with the biggest potential in utilities, manufacturing, public safety, public transport and healthcare.

5G will power the enterprise and enterprise will power 5G

There is even discussion that 5G could potentially replace enterprise Wi-Fi and local area networks. In specific applications – such as a factory, stadium or warehouse – this could make sense. However, enterprises may find it hard and costly to manage private networks themselves and would require spectrum licenses. Such networks would probably be most applicable to campus environments where IoT traffic and applications aren’t distributed over wide areas.

Our world is in the midst of a fundamental shift in how we live, work and consume as a result of digitization, which is all being powered by data. It’s clear that 5G is set to have a profound impact on it all.

Discover how LACROIX Group, Schneider Electric, Renault, SNCF and RATP are testing different uses for 5G in partnership with Orange.