5G: Powering the Industrial Internet of Things

We are moving closer to the Networked Society reality with a 5G future that is moving forward at an increasingly rapid pace. Until now, broadband internet has empowered individuals and enterprises with faster connectivity; today, a new era is upon us – the age of the Industrial Internet of Things. However, realizing this new era of productivity and efficiency means that business models and communications technologies within organizations will need to undergo entire transformations to experience the benefits of this bright, digital future.


Lars Bergendahl, 5G Program Manager, Business Unit Radio – Ericsson

As emerging applications like self-driving vehicles and remotely operated machinery evolve, become more innovative, and more widespread, the level of performance that 5G networks need to deliver will inevitably rise. Keeping pace with ever-increasing demand calls for greater flexibility in all parts of the network, which in turn requires tight integration between 5G radio, transport networks, and cloud infrastructures.

Like the transition to 4G, 5G networks will offer a much higher performance than the previous generation. 5G will also dramatically increase the speed at which this connection operates and it will have the capacity to support many thousands of internet-operating devices that are anticipated to appear in the world in the coming years. It will also make it easy to connect and communicate in crowded or remote areas.

Based on the recent Ericsson Mobility Report released in June 2016, the total mobile data traffic is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 45 percent. The growth in mobile data traffic is due to both the rising number of smartphone subscriptions, in particular for LTE smartphones, and increasing data consumption per subscriber. This is forecast to result in a ten-fold increase in total traffic for all devices by the end of 2021. These trends will inevitably result in increased traffic on operator networks.

We have recognised these requirements early on, and have already created the infrastructure to address the growth of IoT and urbanization with solutions such as Zero Site. Today, we are leading the field in the development towards 5G standardization, and piloting use cases around the globe that push the envelope in technological development to support the coming industrial internet.

Ericsson, for example, is working to develop solutions to transportation challenges using 5G by building prototypes of transport solutions and demonstrating them on a small scale in a suburb outside of Stockholm. Doing this will ideally lead to a better understanding of the requirements these use cases will eventually put on 5G networks. The effects can be tremendous. Take the simple example of self-driving vehicle technology when it comes to latency; with 4G, it would take about 1.4 meters to apply its brakes, but it would be just an inch 2.5 cm for a car with 5G to do the same, ensuring that more collisions are avoided.

Fundamentally, applications such as mobile telephony, mobile broadband and media delivery are about information for humans. In contrast, many of the new applications and use cases that drive the requirements and capabilities of 5G are about end-to-end communication between machines.

With 5G, it will be possible to experience broadband, anytime, anywhere and communicate in crowded or remote areas at high speed, thanks to a decrease in latency and the increase in data rates. This creates opportunities for security, sustainability, mobility, capacity and coverage. 5G will also provide network users with efficient and flexible media delivery and consumption, which will shift all media consumption terms to the consumer enabling a media vision for mobile first markets.

Paving the way for new possibilities such as increased efficiency and reduced cost or risk reduction in hazardous environments, next generation networks will allow for the remote control of heavy, industrial machinery thereby transforming the entire environment of entire industries such as construction and oil and gas.

At Ericsson, we are looking ahead. In the next five years, we see a shift from physical products to service delivery and a change in perspectives, with classrooms being replaced by a global pool of teachers and healthcare moving from reactive treatment of illness to a proactive securement of wellness. By 2021 we see 7,700,000,000 mobile broadband subscriptions.  According to Ericsson Mobility Report, smartphone traffic will grow by 12 times between 2015 and 2021 and video will account for around 70% of mobile data traffic.

Solutions will no longer be able to operate in silos, but on a horizontal field capable of handling this increased traffic. 2020 may seem like a long way away, but in reality, these technologies will be available sooner than we think, which is why information and communications technology companies have to bring the future to fruition today, so that we can create a better smart transportation system for tomorrow. By enabling the physical execution of industrial