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Is 5G ready for the IoT?
Source:Original | Author:Calio Huang of C&T RF Antennas Inc | Publish time: 2019-08-27 | 1027 Views | Share:

5G is finally here. This is the first generation of cellular network technology that was designed with IoT applications in mind and will have a major impact on the medium to long term. But what is the advantage of 5G for anyone planning an IoT project? Is it really a viable option?

5G's advantage for the Internet of Things

It is worth noting that 5G is used for some of the major advantages of consumer applications, higher connection speeds, and greater capacity. Irrespective of the Internet of Things, the Internet of Things typically uses a large number of devices, each of which sends a small amount of data. In theory, extra capacity is a boon for the Internet of Things because it allows for greater device density in an area. But in fact, this density is very rare for existing networks.

The biggest benefit is its low power consumption. When we say that 5G is based on the Internet of Things, this is what we mean. The previous cellular technology was designed based on the assumption that it is mainly used in mobile phones with batteries that charge once a day, and each generation consumes more power than the previous generation. But for devices that send small amounts of data, 5G is better optimized, reducing the signaling and payload overhead of any particular data bit.

For IoT and networked devices, the benefits of lower power consumption (smaller battery or longer battery life) are enormous. Smaller devices offer greater flexibility in deploying IoT solutions while extending service life means leaving equipment on-site for longer periods of time without expensive maintenance.

5G alternative

However, while 5G is now commercially available, it is unlikely to be ready for most IoT cases. These networks are still geographically constrained, and you must also consider the availability of 5G-compatible devices and all the system integration steps that follow.

In fact, waiting for 5G may mean waiting a long time. There are other solutions that can solve most of the same IoT issues.

The most notable of these is LoRa, a low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) technology based on unlicensed public spectrum, which was originally developed in 2009 but has been widely adopted in the past 12-18 months. It is specifically designed to send very small amounts of data at very low overhead.

Of course, there are some limitations. A LoRa module provides approximately 10 kilometers of coverage in open space, which limits it to use cases with static devices operating in a fixed area. Public LoRa networks also exist, but these networks only cover major urban areas, unlike cellular networks, where devices can be reliably connected in almost any city.

Whether it is the right technology depends on your specific needs, including location, bandwidth, and security. Or, by using current cellular technology and accepting larger batteries in the short term or through a combination of technologies, you can better meet your needs.

Most IoT applications are viable on currently available technologies. Implement it correctly, once its coverage is more common and hardware is cheaper, you are ready to transition to 5G.