What does 5G NR mean for service and software providers?

November 22, 2021

Let’s talk about some of the most exciting 5G-based business opportunities for software and service providers.

What are the differences between the capabilities of 5G NR and those of previous generations?

In terms of data throughput, the difference is enormous. Advanced LTE networks could reach around 100 Mbps, while 5G networks are capable of up to 20 Gbps. This aspect drives a significant number of businesses that are awaiting the popularization of 5G, mainly in the entertainment industry. Right now, most real-life 5G deployments aim to improve the potential data throughput compared to LTE as the primary goal. However, 5G can offer much more than just high download and upload speeds.


There’s an equally impressive improvement in terms of potential latency. It’s entirely possible to build 5G networks that operate with less than 1 ms latency. This is why 5G could be called the gateway to autonomous driving, remote surgeries, and industrial live-analysis. 


Another key difference is greater network capacity, which means the maximum amount of traffic that a network can handle. This aspect is essential for massive IoT and IIoT (Industrial IoT) implementations that require networks to continually connect with thousands of devices. 5G networks can potentially support up to as many as a million devices per square kilometer. 


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What kinds of new opportunities does 5G NR present to current and new emerging businesses?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the capabilities of 5G will open doors for many software and service providers. Along with cellular providers willing to provide better experiences, we’ll see a growing number of software companies that utilize the new possibilities of 5G to deliver new forms of service and entertainment that weren’t available in previous network generations. Of course, there’s also significant demand in terms of industrial 5G networks. 


So, where can we expect the most widespread utilization of 5G NR?




Technologies for Industry 4.0

The most recent industrial revolution doesn’t have a specific technology that fuels all changes, like the inventions of steam engines or electricity did. However, this revolution is often regarded as a data-driven one, since it heavily depends on data collection and analysis. In many cases, incredible amounts of data. Therefore, deploying a 5G network can be one of the necessary steps for companies to enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Let’s see how the 5G standard enables the implementation of I 4.0 strategies.

Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT/IIoT)

IoT technology refers to sensors and devices that are able to communicate with each other. In a commercial context, the term is often used in the case of home appliances such as smart fridges, smart speakers, and many other app-supported devices. However, there are also many applications of the technology on industrial, organizational, environmental, military, and infrastructural scales. Some such implementations require data throughput, latency, and network capabilities that cannot be achieved without 5G networks. One key example is manufacturing in the Industry 4.0 model. Using IoT sensors and software-based tools, companies can collect data about the entire manufacturing process. Another similar known use case is the agriculture industry, in which farmers use sensors to access data about humidity, temperature, infestation, sunlight, soil contents, and much more. Using those data sets, farmers can use AI-based solutions to optimize processes, reduce costs, mitigate risks, predict crises, and find new opportunities.

Enhanced cloud-based services

The ability to quickly access large sets of data from anywhere may be one of the most significant changes for all cloud-based applications, platforms, and services. An improved cloud experience, data safety, and easy access to people within their organization may turn even more companies to this form of services. This would result in cloud computing becoming an absolutely booming industry.

Empowered AI-based services

The growth of 5G networks works as a catalyst for AI-based systems. The faster data flow between servers, people, and IoT devices will speed up AI’s learning process. Consequently, we’ll see much faster improvement of AI-based tools and rapid growth of AI-based businesses. 


Our 5G network planning tool is an example of software that benefits from both of the last two technologies mentioned. It’s a cloud-based solution that utilizes AI and machine learning algorithms to automatically find the best network configuration.



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Non-industrial use cases

Entertainment

The higher data throughput of 5G NR will allow companies to create richer, more immersive, higher-quality experiences, giving people the ability to watch, stream, and have calls in 4K video, AR, 360-degrees. It also means more creative space for mobile multiplayer game developers that were significantly limited by the capabilities of previous network generations. Another exciting field is in-car entertainment. 5G networks deployed in cities and along highways will encourage car designers to include devices to vastly improve passengers’ experiences. To sum up, the amount of potential applications that may emerge in the entertainment industry thanks to 5G is genuinely incredible.

Healthcare

The low-latency capability of 5G networks can be utilized for remote diagnosis, surgeries, and other medical procedures that weren’t possible before. At this point, however, 5G deployments very rarely aim to meet those <1 ms latency requirements.

Connecting Smart Cities

5G networks can have a considerable impact on the development of smart, sustainable, and citizen-friendly cities. One way to achieve that is through enabling the deployment of massive IoT networks, which then can be utilized for numerous applications such as:


  • smart city lighting
  • smart parking
  • environmental monitoring
  • city bikes 
  • building automation
  • energy management


In some cases, however, those solutions can harm privacy and civil liberties. The biggest example of this is the Chinese Social Credit System. In that case, the technology is used to track citizens’ behavior and can affect their social score. With their score dropping, people can be prohibited from using public communication, taking loans, and buying property or cars.

How fast can we expect 5G to spread?

In some countries, 5G can already be considered to be widely available. A critical aspect , though, is that “not all 5G is made equally”. There are two primary deployment modes for 5G NR networks. Depending on the type, they have different capabilities and come with different planning challenges.


Non-standalone (NSA) can be described as an add-on to an existing LTE infrastructure because 5G deployments in this model depend on 4G base stations. It is a common scenario for cellular providers that are planning to enable enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), which means networks will be sufficient for 4K/360/3D streaming and VR/AR applications. As of now, the vast majority of 5G deployments are based on the NSA model.


Standalone (SA) 5G deployments won’t utilize 4G infrastructure, which will enable them to deliver the full potential of the 5G standard. Networks built this way can be sufficient for two “clean” deployment models: Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and Massive Machine Type Communication (MMTC). Use cases for those models include autonomous driving, remote surgeries, as well as massive IoT and IIoT projects. 


We elaborate more about deployment strategies and requirements in an article about 5G architecture.

What change can we expect in the next few years?

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles in the widespread popularization of 5G is the challenging process of network planning. In order to be effective, 5G planning solutions have to be drastically different from those designed for previous generations. For the new generation, planners have to take into account factors such as:


  • buildings and other structures
  • terrain shape
  • vegetation
  • traffic
  • snow and heavy rain


All of those aspects can potentially affect 5G wave propagation, result in packet losses, and cause latency spikes. However, those problems can now be solved with a Digital Twin-based 5G network planning tool such as ours. A Digital Twin is a digitally recreated part of reality. In this case, the part of reality would be a city, district, building, or an industrial facility. The introduction of this technology was a major step towards efficient 5G network planning.


Our AI-supported 5G planning solution is equipped with a precise mmWave propagation model, which allows it to automatically test hundreds of antennae configurations in search of the perfect one. The method ends up being up to 90% faster than most available solutions for as little as 10% of the cost. You can read more about our 5G planning tool here or contact us using the form below.


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