Speed isn’t the only advantage of 5G.
Along with offering speeds 100 times faster than 4G networks, 5G promises lower latency (1 millisecond vs. 40-50), greater network density (1 million connected devices per kilometer vs. 2,000), more reliability, and enhanced flexibility through network slicing.
These characteristics make 5G a key driver for digital transformations on an enterprise level. Increased bandwidth, lower latency, and faster data transfer speeds can enable organizations across industries to adopt technologies like connected devices or IoT that increase efficiency, customer experience, and even expand their offerings.
As a leader in 5G development, the Asia-Pacific region seems to recognize this potential for 5G. Singapore plans to have coverage for half the island by the end of 2022, and full coverage by the end of 2025.
Meanwhile, countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are still in the early stages of their 5G journeys. Delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, limited government investment, and delayed action from businesses, some countries are still using 4G networks with their IoT devices, while many are using networks as old as 2G.
These old networks can significantly limit IoT capabilities, preventing enterprises from seeing their full potential. For example, standardizing services and equipment on 4G can be challenging, creating siloed operations that make IoT cumbersome. Standardization with 5G gets much less attention than high download speeds, but it can be just as important for businesses, allowing them to make operations more efficient and simple.
Telecommunications companies will be integral to the development of 5G IoT throughout Southeast Asia, along with technology service providers and other stakeholders. Together, these groups can build the infrastructure necessary to enable 5G and IoT while providing the strategy and consulting services enterprises need to identify strong use cases that generate greater returns on investments.
The true value of 5G IoT
A major barrier to 5G and IoT adoption is selling the idea of connectivity. Businesses want seamless integration and flawless operations from IoT networks, but most telecom operators are not there yet. Like many disruptive technologies, the key is not in the technology itself but in the people promoting it. Operators need to be able to effectively convey the potential of IoT to businesses, even if that full potential is not yet accessible, so businesses can start laying the groundwork now and building their capabilities.
Three aspects of 5G will have tremendous impact on consumer and industrial sectors, enabling businesses to do more with new and existing technologies.
- Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)
Peak data rates of 10-20 Gbps, 10,000 times more traffic than 4G
Use cases: High-fidelity video streaming (4K), VR content, supports high-mobility speeds (500kmph) and high-speed connectivity for cars and planes
- Ultra-reliable low-latency connectivity (URLLC)
Reduced latencies and error rates (packet loss)
Use cases: Remote surgeries, self-driving cars, industrial automation
- Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)
Narrow band internet access for devices, sensors, monitors that transfer small amounts of data sporadically
Use cases: IoT, smart cities, industrial automation, supply chain IoT
A big deal for B2B
Organizational challenges such as cybersecurity constraints and interoperability on the B2B (business-to-business) side have slowed IoT adoption, giving telecom operators and their service partners a timely opportunity to change the game.
The rise of remote work, for example, has illuminated a need for greater connectivity in the workplace, high-fidelity video and conferencing, collaborative tools, immersive experiences. Entertainment is also becoming more immersive, leveraging augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Connected devices are even making their way into healthcare settings, from wearable sensors to remote-controlled robotics for surgeries. These are just a few of the many ways 5G and IoT can be used to improve business operations and expand offerings.
Because the impact of IoT on the consumer side is expected to be less significant than in other areas, adoption among B2C (business-to-consumer) organizations is expected to be slower than with B2Bs. Still, the B2C market is a great opportunity for mobile operators to test new offerings before taking them to enterprise clients. Although individual consumer demands can be hard to keep up with, they usually do not exceed the demands of larger enterprise clients, and therefore provide a chance to refine offerings before going big.
Doubling the industry knowledge
Telecom operators and technology partners have a lot of valuable industry knowledge that can help enterprises roll out a successful 5G IoT program, such as how to cater to diverse markets without getting stuck in planning phases.
Scale has been a challenge to local IoT adoption, with clients facing pressure to create new revenue streams without increasing costs. IoT programs can be difficult to scale up because they involve both infrastructure and services. Enterprises are therefore spending significant time in IoT pilot phases to be sure they’re making the best decision.
Adopting new technologies requires knowledge of the industry and its potential for change. As a global leader in IT and consulting services, Wipro has worked with organizations across nearly every industry — from healthcare and retail to gaming and manufacturing — helping them identify the best way to integrate technologies like 5G and IoT to meet their business goals.
IoT networks can also become very complex and expansive, requiring a lot of orchestration and oversight to keep data secure and moving efficiently. Telecom operators can benefit from working with experienced systems orchestrators fluent in areas like IoT implementation, data security, and network management. By combining industry and technology expertise, telecom companies and service partners can help drive IoT adoption, working with enterprise clients to facilitate their digital transformations.
Ongoing developments in technologies like 5G and edge computing across Southeast Asia will enable further advancements in IoT, accelerating digital transformations and presenting new opportunities for businesses and their customers. Telecom companies can capitalize on this momentum by being a driver of change, working with an experience technology partner to develop the infrastructure and service offerings companies need to succeed in this new space.