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INSIGHTS

What makes 5G better than other network options for IIoT?

What makes 5G better than other network options for IIoT?
Industrial IoT is all set to grow at a quick pace in the coming years as technology advances and demand increases. However, the increasingly intricate systems of IIoT can only be achieved with the use of 5G technology
Industrial IoT is all set to grow at a quick pace in the coming years as technology advances and demand increases. However, the increasingly intricate systems of IIoT can only be achieved with the use of 5G technology, according to Thales.
 
In a recent post on its website, Thales pointed out that Complex webs of pattern-detecting, decision-making machines require fast, widespread low-latency connectivity. Only fifth-generation cellular can deliver it.
 
“Yes, there are other network options. Satellite, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID, NFC, Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) and Ethernet all have the ability to connect devices,” the company writes. “But everyone involves a trade-off around speed, range, power consumption, bandwidth, and so on.”

A rapidly expanding market

Research agencies across the board say that 5G is set to drive exponential growth of Industrial IoT. According to Juniper Research, the number of Industrial IoT connections will increase from 17.7 billion in 2020 to 36.8 billion in 2025.
 
This has wide-ranging implications. McKinsey suggests that 5G could boost global GDP by around $1.2 to $2 trillion by 2030. All this points to the importance of 5G to modern industries.

What makes 5G different from others?

When 4G reached the market, it was hailed for its increased bandwidth and speed. But its use was mostly seen from the perspective of applications like streaming videos. However, 5G is an entirely different technology and network, built on a virtual infrastructure rather than physical.
 
“Thanks to its software-defined core (and its use of shorter frequencies between 30GHz and 300GHz), 5G changes the way that mobile services are delivered – with radical improvements in speed, bandwidth, and capacity,” Thales points out.
 
Three main features highlight the advantages of 5G in modern industrial automation systems. First, 5G can provide up to 10 gigabytes per second speed. Second, it has the capacity to connect one million devices per square kilometer. This is 1,000x more than what 4G allowed. Finally, 5G offers a dramatically low latency rate of one millisecond. To put it in context, 4G delivers 40 to 60 milliseconds of latency.
 
“This is important stuff – especially for new Industrial IoT applications such as remote surgery and autonomous transport,” Thales pointed out. “The average reaction time for humans is estimated at around a quarter of a second. In this context, 5G could make it possible for a car to reach 250 times faster than its driver.”

The divisible nature of 5G

Another major advantage of 5G is that it allows the creation of smaller virtual networks. Known as ‘network slicing’, it works through ‘multi-access edge computing’ (MEC). Mobile network operators can use MEC to allocate bandwidth to enterprises – so that these organizations can run their own mini-network that is perfectly customized to their needs.
 
“By giving private companies ultra-fast connectivity that they control (and can secure), private networking will be a key driver of the Industrial IoT,” Thales says. “And enterprises are already experimenting. The Global Mobile Suppliers Association says it is tracking 370 companies around the world that have been or are investing in private mobile networks based on LTE or 5G.”

Security becomes paramount

The rise of IIoT on the back of 5G will increase the amount of data collected. This inevitably raises concerns on cybersecurity as data is sensitive and protecting it is extremely important.
 
According to a post by Fortinet, protecting IIoT networks requires a clear understanding of the organizational processes. This involves breaking down the IIoT ecosystem into different domains that would allow easier management of the technology.
 
“The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), an open membership organization formed to accelerate the development, adoption, and widespread use of the industrial internet, divides IIoT ecosystems into five functional domains: control, operations, information, application, and business,” Fortinet said. “The control domain mainly deals with the industrial or machine aspects, such as control, sense, and actuation technologies. The combined control and operations domains form the business’ OT side, and the remaining domains are on the IT side.”

Conclusion

The fifth-generation telecommunication technology is all set to transform many industries. In the industrial automation sector, this would bring in more efficient, productive systems that generate more data and provide actionable insights.
 
However, this does come with cybersecurity risks which customers should be aware of. With the right cyber-hardening techniques that take the operational technology into account, customers can gain tremendous benefits with 5G.
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