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Many mobile network operators are steadily upgrading their wireless ecosystem to connect over 25% of mobile users worldwide, transitioning from 2G to 3G and 4G in 2016 and moving to 5G within the next three years. This roll-out plan is instrumental in expanding mobile broadband coverage, accelerating device speed, increasing capacity for higher data loads, and offering attractive prices.  

However, for IoT adopters, such advancements can complicate their existing device network. Retrofitting or replacing hundreds – or even thousands – of devices is not a cost-effective option to fully benefit from the low-power, high-capacity, and long-range capabilities of 5G. This limitation is especially concerning if the business later decides to add new devices with 5G-only capabilities. Below, we’ll discuss how the transition to 5G can benefit organizations with IoT solutions. 

The Transition to 5G 

By the time 5G is rolled out in 2020, the number of IoT devices connected to the internet is expected to triple from 10 billion to 34 billion, and nearly US $6 trillion will be spent on supporting IoT solutions. Every device implemented and every sensor embedded will bring a massive volume of real-time insights into otherwise unknown market opportunities and operational risks. For first movers, this opportunity offers billions of dollars of economic advantage over those that delay 5G acceptance or resist it altogether. 

At the same time, it is important to not think of 5G as a threat to businesses currently adopting 4G. There’s no reason to delay the design of next-generation devices because the transition from 4G to 5G will be smooth and not lead to compatibility issues. Actually, the 5G new radio (NR) will simply overlap and coexist with the 4G core network. 

LPWA paves a path to 5G with undisrupted information flow 

To meet the diverse requirements of IoT applications in a 5G world, companies are beginning to consider low power wide area (LPWA) networks. Every application has different needs that require various considerations such as coverage, power consumption, security, scalability, and interoperability. These factors determine which IoT technology is chosen. The considerations can be identified and grouped into three categories – technical, commercial and ecosystem-related – to provide a more structured approach to assessing requirements. 

The defining characteristics of a LPWA network is its ability to: 

  • Support devices that are low power both in terms of processing and transmission power, where the expected battery life is 10 years or more. 
  • Achieve the intended objective at a low cost. 
  • Provide extended coverage to the edge of a cell, inside buildings, or basements. 
  • Enable IoT applications that only need to transmit tiny amounts of data across a long range.  

Many IoT solutions deployed in various environments require different functionalities such as tracking, control, and remote monitoring. With LPWA, companies can easily add any number of low-power wireless connections to their IoT innovation without modifying the design to accommodate new standards. An application that is best suited for the licensed spectrum 4G standard could be deployed easily in a 5G environment. 

In every vertical, we can find a variety of different examples, all of them sharing the same complementary needs. Take, for example, autonomous driving and remote surgery. Although both use cases are from two completely different industries, they both require mission-critical, low-latency communications supported by 5G. At the same time, the ecosystem of those two segments will call for massive deployments of low cost sensors, which are starting to enable LPWA today. 

Connectivity safeguards can help businesses realize the full potential of the IoT 

There’s little doubt that 5G will become a significant disrupter and game changer that touches a variety of business communications technologies. The generation and use of data will continue to explode as wireless connectivity increases in speed and lowers latency.  

However, it may take time for businesses to mature their infrastructure, apps, and proof of concepts to take full advantage of the high-speed, low-latency connectivity of 5G. Until then, LPWA technology can help create a foundation for data-driven, sensor-reliant operations that accelerate the adoption and value of 5G.  

Accelerate LPWA Device Deployment 

Are you ready to take advantage of the power of 5G? Telit makes it easy to get started. Our IoT experts will help you determine the best combination of LPWA modules and custom IoT data plan for your needs. Request a FREE Evaluation Kit today to start creating your smart business solution.