FAQ: What Enterprises Need to Know about Preparing for a 5G Future

April 19, 2021

5G is here and ready to deliver multigigabit speeds and ultralow latency. Enterprise organizations are eager to leverage 5G to reap its benefits and opportunities for innovation.

Telit’s Marco Contento and Joe Braga have answered the top questions about preparing for a 5G future, including how to do automation testing, what to expect for machine-to-machine (M2M) services in 5G, how 5G will be used for remote devices, and more.

Marco Contento

Vice President of Technologies, Telit

Joe Braga

Head of Regional Marketing, Telit

Take 5G for a Test Drive

1. What is the future of millimeter wave (mmWave) compared to sub-6 GHz in terms of usage and complexity? Should the industry focus more on sub-6 GHz or mmWave?

Marco Contento: There isn’t a straightforward answer. It depends on the use case or application the industry wants to approach. Most of the use cases can be well served by sub-6 GHz bands. mmWave is more suitable for fixed wireless access (FWA) applications such as outdoor customer premises equipment (CPE). There are also potential use cases in which mmWave might be used where high throughput is required in downlink and uplink, such as streaming high-definition video outdoors or indoors.

2. What are the Internet of Things (IoT) service assurance aspects of Telit’s service offering?

Joe Braga: Telit has evolved all its offerings from over 20 years of servicing the most demanding verticals and industries with quality as the primary focus. It has been a significant component of the Telit brand promise all this time. For example, all our modules meet the most stringent industrial quality standards. They include a full -40° C to +85° C operating temperature range with minimal roll-off at the edges and best-in-class RF performance. For example, we offer the only module Gigabit LTE in the market with dual-uplink RF chains to ensure full uplink speed performance even when carrier aggregation must occur in different bands. On the service side, all Telit operation infrastructure elements are designed with redundancies and constantly updated with security features from industry-leading partners like Sternum, AWS and others. Read our Quality Mission to learn more.

3. What can we expect in all networks for M2M services in 5G like LTE-M and NB-IoT, and what will be operator dependent?

Marco Contento: M2M services will continue to be served by LTE-M and NB-IoT for a long time, thus by the 4G/LTE networks. Mobile network operators (MNOs) are currently focused on bringing 5G New Radio (NR) for mobile broadband (MBB) use cases. We’ll have to wait a few years before seeing chipset and low-tier IoT devices supporting 5G NR, as well as the infrastructure and MNOs.

4. How do you do automation testing on 5G? What tools do you use?

Marco Contento: As for all the cellular devices, different types of tests are required, which are mainly:

  • Certification tests, which are carried out by accredited laboratories using final samples
  • Production tests and calibration, which are carried out in the production facilities on each unit produced

For each above, different test equipment is used, and various types of automation are required. Known brands in the industry provide the test equipment.

5. When 5G is ready, IoT use cases will be much more adapted and used daily by consumers and corporations. Could you please specify the relationship between 5G and IoT/NB-IoT?

Joe Braga: 5G is well on its way to becoming part of widely deployed devices like healthcare trackers, surveillance systems and smart city services, to name a few. NB-IoT and LTE-M will continue evolving in 5G networks with dynamic spectrum sharing, dual-mode 5G Cloud Core and standardization commitments by the 3GPP, even if COVID-19 delays schedules. With dynamic spectrum sharing, NB-IoT and 5G can co-exist with hardly any network efficiency compromise.

6. How do you see 5G being used for IoT devices in remote locations where the sites can’t be manually operated, but low latency and reliable connectivity are required? How are costs expected to compare with LP-WAN solutions such as LoRaWAN? How do you see the technology unfurling in India versus other countries?

Joe Braga: Device management is absolutely an integral part of the 5G architecture. In 2020 Telit collaborated with Orange, workgroups and committees at OMA SpecWorks to produce the paper titled “OMA Lightweight M2M (LwM2M) – Ready for 5G.” From it, you can glean the direction and reach of remote device management afforded by the evolution of the LwM2M standard inside 5G. As for costs, NR does much better at utilizing spectrum to accommodate narrowband standards, which will succeed LTE-M and NB-IoT. However, as stated in Question 5, it will be a few more years until we see LPWA-NR modules in the market. Until then, LTE-M and NB-IoT will continue growing, and prices will be dropping, including in India.

7. What’s the expected 5G NR development roadmap and coverage in the U.K.?

Marco Contento: 5G service in the U.K. is already available commercially through operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. They are each rolling out 5G coverage; thus, coverage and capacity will improve as time passes.

8. What are the reasons the 5G modules are on an M.2 and not a mini PCIe type of connector?

Marco Contento: We chose M.2 for two reasons:

  • More pins are available compared to mini PCIe standard
  • More and more customers in the industrial space have adopted M.2

9. What is the scope of AI and blockchain in 5G architecture?

Marco Contento: Neither is part of the 5G standard, but 5G is a significant enabler for both technologies. A fundamental ingredient of AI is a high-performing medium to network computing, sensing and storage nodes in the AI architecture, and 5G, with its high bandwidth and low latencies, is that medium in many ways. As 5G is quickly replacing cabling as the wireless connects autonomous robots, x-ray quality inspection cameras and more, we will see AI applied abundantly in manufacturing automation. Likewise, blockchain is bound to accelerate, considering it’s an archetype of decentralization, consensus-driven schemas and cryptography, all of which are essential for the IoT.  Massive IoT started with LTE-M and NB-IoT and is fully supported in 5G with dynamic spectrum sharing and the 5G Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and 5GC dual-mode Cloud Core.

10. What is the timing for 5G mmWave infrastructure deployment, and what will be the first large-scale applications (e.g., consumer, vehicle, factory, public arenas, etc.)?

Marco Contento: North America, South Korea and Japan have already started to deploy mmWave mainly for consumer devices or to serve FWA use cases. Several other countries and carriers are also investing or deploying mmWave.