The Road to 5G IoT

January 8, 2018

It’s hard to miss the excitement about 5G and the future of cellular technology while the mobile industry is buzzing about this next generation of high-speed wireless service. 5G is expected to not only provide faster access, but also act as an information conduit built to connect self-driving cars, virtual reality headsets, delivery drones, and billions of interconnected devices inside the home.

Unfortunately, we have to wait a while to realize the full potential of 5G due to the drastic infrastructure upgrades that carriers will need to undergo to support it. However, understanding how 5G will impact the future of IoT and how your organization can work toward a 5G future will help ensure that you’re ready when the time comes.

What Is 5G? 

The main thrust of 5G is the promise of a unified connectivity fabric that always delivers available, secure cloud access for a set of very distinct and separate use cases:

  • Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) enables real-world speeds of hundreds of Mbps and beyond, delivering much more capacity to efficiently support unlimited data.
  • Ultra-reliable low latency or mission-critical services (ULLC) drive new opportunities such as autonomous vehicle and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) applications.
  • Massive Internet of Things (IoT) addresses the ever-growing need for IoT use cases leveraging low-power, wide-area wireless technology.

As with any new technology, the path to full global adoption is still years away. U.S. carriers are targeting 2020 (which is an ambitious timeline for a major network overhaul) and focusing on eMBB because it’s suitable for mobile phones and high-end network use.

So what should a business planning a new IoT deployment do? It’s simple – get started right now!

Build Your IoT Capabilities for a 5G Future

It is possible to advance IoT capabilities today and take advantage of 5G in the future without losing any investment made over this two-year period. Long-term evolution (LTE) IoT, which includes enhanced machine-type communication (eMTC), long-term evolution for machines (LTE-M), and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), was developed to address the growing needs for today’s LPWA IoT needs.

Existing use cases include:

  • Ubiquitous coverage of challenging locations by optimizing the device link budgeted for low-data rates
  • Ultra-low current, which enables efficient use of device battery life to maximize years of useful operation in the field
  • Increased capacity to efficiently support dense connections per km^2
  • Low complexity scaling the IoT for low-end, single-mode use cases

The good news about these digital opportunities is that LTE IoT and 5G new radio (NR) are designed to co-exist with each other. Better yet, LTE IoT is available right now. For example, our Cat M/NB-IoT modules are already carrier-certified and delivering on key IoT messages – namely, a low-power, simplified design and improved link budgeting – that allow use cases such as tracking and exchanging data with devices located underground, in basements, and water near lines. Meanwhile, flexible 5G NR frameworks are designed to support all existing, emerging, and future scenarios.

5G will support in-band eMTC/LTE-M and NB-IoT. 5G NR 2^n scaling of 15 kHz subcarrier spacing is natively compatible with LTE IoT numerologies. In addition, the network core in both 5G deployment options – non-standalone (NA) with LTE EPC or standalone (SA) with 5G core – support LTE IoT evolution.

Don’t Wait for 5G — IoT Advancement Is an Exercise of Continuous Evolution

Even though 5G capabilities are not yet fully realized, the reality is that it is possible to advance your IoT projects and capabilities today without losing time, market opportunities, and investment or facing concerns regarding interoperability in the 5G future. Businesses should feel confident in implementing their choice of LTE IoT today.

By taking advantage of the strong global momentum of over 35 mobile operators committed to deploying Cat M and/or NB-IoT networks, organizations can start building IoT solutions designed with the 5G future in mind while still meeting today’s LPWA IoT requirements. We make it easy to help you design an IoT solution for today that is ready to advantage of future technology.

Let us show you the difference that we can make. Our evaluation kits allow you to test our hardware, connectivity services, and device management portal for your IoT solutions.

Speak with our IoT experts to request a sample kit.