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Internet of Things for the 5G Era

The Government has envisaged making India a five trillion-dollar economy by 2025, and one major requirement to achieve this goal is to transform its digital infrastructure. According to McKinsey, implementing faster connections in mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail can increase global GDP by $1.2 – $2 trillion by 2030, and this can have a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion on India by 2035, reported Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. In view of this, 5G rollouts are being planned to expand new-age technologies and various digital applications. Next-generation 5G networks will allow enterprise & governments to leverage technologies like IoT, AI, AR/VR, and private LTE to support Industry 4.0. It will enable more mission-critical IoT devices to be connected reliably through wireless while providing enhanced broadband for immersive and seamless experiences and better access to healthcare, education, e-governance, banking, crisis management, etc. As per the GSMA forecast, over the period 2023–2040, 5G technologies will contribute approximately $450 billion to the Indian economy (0.6% of GDP by 2040).

5G will spur innovations across industries and give rise to emergent technologies such as IoT to become an integral part of our economy and lifestyle.

The impact of 5G on IoT with its application

A forecast by International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that there will be 41.6 billion IoT devices in 2025. This increased number of IoT devices in the geography demands ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, and increased availability, which can be delivered with the help of 5G speeds. It offers a consistent user experience by creating more stable connections. Moreover, 5G will fast-track the process of transmitting data, a present-day challenge for IoT technologies due to disconnected systems. With the use of sensors and smart applications, one can easily transmit data from anywhere. It will enable us to control more devices remotely where real-time network performance is critical, such as remote control of heavy machinery in hazardous environments, thereby improving worker safety and even remote surgery. Moreover, smart cities bet big on IoT as it influences development with better traffic management, improved waste management, enhanced road safety, emergency response, and a lot more.

In short, if 4G was about speeds & feeds, 5G would be about creating experiences and opening up a world of opportunities for industries and telecom service providers alike.

Challenges posed by IoT devices to 5G networks

Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report estimates that India will have over 900 million internet users in India by 2025. This is directly proportional to the exponential increase in bandwidth requirements and capacity in 5G networks, and this might become a significant issue for Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in the coming years. In a data-driven world, 5G IoT deployments will endure complex online security threats, but communication is expected to increase with faster-than-ever data speeds. This will push cloud-based services and data to be as impermeable as possible to protect user data and privacy. To reduce complexity, IT will need greater visibility into the network to track devices, estimate multipath SLAs, and use AI and ML to further enhance experiences. On the other hand, users will need to be more mindful and stringent about their data and privacy. Therefore, the transition to 5G might not be easy initially, and new challenges will emerge as we enter this new age of communication.

The era of emerging technologies with endless use cases

The integrated ecosystem of 5G and IoT has the potential to revolutionise India’s infrastructure if they are synched in a systematic manner. This seamless integration of both technologies can help industries across sectors to take practical steps in the value chain. With open roaming features from Wi-Fi6E, manufacturers can easily bridge Public 5G to Private WiFi6E and have both technologies working in harmony to enhance user experience. Private 5G enables connectivity for a full range of technologies and use cases, from factory floors to supply chains, remote sensors, and customer engagements.

The synergised combination of an 5G + WiFi6 network enabling IoT devices will usher in a new era of digital connectivity. It represents a significant transition in the IoT ecosystem, ensuring greater speeds, lower latency rates, more reliability, and a uniform user experience. 5G, with its extraordinary efficiency, will contribute to making technology applications better, more convenient, and cost-effective. It will further improve everyday users’ quality of life from personal application to fundamentally changing how we work and live.

(The author is Mr. Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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