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What Are Some Examples of 5G Use Cases?
5G is designed to increase transmission speed, increase network capacity, and reduce latency. These advanced capabilities have huge potential for industries such as the following:
- Industrial Internet of Things (IoT)
- Autonomous Vehicles
- Smart Cities
Before we dive into some specific use cases, let's briefly touch on why 5G is so different, how it works, and why it’s changing the way enterprises communicate and scale.
Why 5G Changes Everything
5G seems to be the latest buzzword in the cellular world, but does it live up to the hype? The short answer is yes. Every few years a new cellular standard is released; these are often described as generations. For example, 4G (fourth generation) was a significant upgrade from its 3G predecessor in every way. 4G paved the way for smartphones and allows users to stream high-definition video, download files quickly, and share information faster than ever.
This is true for 5G as well, but the performance gap between 4G and 5G is so significant that it enables new technology and services that were previously impossible to implement. For instance, 5G boasts ultra-low latency around one millisecond in optimal conditions. This will allow technology such as autonomous vehicles, remote surgeries, and advanced robotics to receive and carry out commands almost instantaneously.
5G currently offers numerous performance benefits that create new opportunities for multiple industries. A few key characteristics of 5G include the following:
- Wired like reliability
- Ultra-low latency <20ms
- Gbps data rate
When you compare 5G to LTE, the leap 5G makes in terms of performance is significant. Outside of these characteristics 5G also transmits data differently than previous generations. Improvements in 5G’s use of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), dubbed 5G New Radio (5G NR), allow for flexible carrier spacing, improved spectrum utilization, and reduced interference. This all translates to a more reliable signal that can support a high volume of different transmissions.
5G also uses multiple bands while sending and receiving data. Using multiple bands is key for reliable long-distance communication and ultra-low latency connections across short distances. 5G uses high, medium, and low bands to ensure data is transmitted across the most efficient path.
For example, 5G signals spanning dozens of miles will use the low band, while IoT sensors on the factory floor use the high band for the best possible performance. The use of these bands not only helps 5G signals cover longer distances, but also aids in ensuring signals penetrate material such as glass, sheet metal, and concrete.
One of the biggest benefits often glossed over is the ability to completely own your own 5G network. When organizations own their spectrum licensing, infrastructure, and devices, they regain control over their cellular resources and are able to shape those resources to meet specific service-level agreements (SLAs), uptime requirements, and business objectives.
This type of cellular architecture is called private 5G, and it is popular among many of the 5G use cases we’ll cover below.
What Is Private 5G?
The main distinction between commercially available 5G and private 5G networks is that organizations own every part of their private 5G network. Similar to enterprise Wi-Fi, private 5G networks have complete control over their network resources, and how those resources are distributed.
In the past, carrier networks, like AT&T or Verizon, were the only options available for organizations looking to leverage cellular networks in their business. The challenge was that commercial networks provide little to no flexibility in terms of coverage or how your bandwidth is used over your network.
For example, a healthcare provider wants to guarantee the availability of their medical application. In a commercial network, there is little they can do to guarantee uptime or ensure certain service levels for that app are being met.
Private cellular networks allow operators to granularly control their network resources, down the exact latency and throughput requirements. Rules can be set and synchronized for specific applications, groups, devices, and subnets across enterprise environments.
This is also the case for private LTE networks that don’t have 5G access quite yet. The same rules and principles apply to private LTE networks, just at 4G levels of performance. Organizations that already use private LTE will find it much easier to upgrade to private 5G in the future.
5G Use Cases
Below are some specific use cases for 5G, with each industry uniquely benefiting from 5G’s improved speed, capacity, and coverage. While not every business needs 5G, almost all large environments that demand high uptime, consistent performance, and total visibility will benefit from private 5G.
Industrial IoT (IIoT)
Manufacturing companies were one of the first businesses to start implementing private cellular networks in their environment and reaping benefits. Factories and industrial processes cannot afford downtime; replacing machines is often costly and out of the question. Instead, manufacturers leverage IoT sensors to help gain new insights on old machines and send alerts to maintenance when problems might be on the horizon.
IIoT sensors require continuous wireless access often over thousands of square feet. Private 5G networks enable factories to build the exact network they need to support IIoT sensors and other technology. By strategically planning a cellular network, businesses can ensure their plants are free of dead zones and that service levels are being met.
Private 5G rises to industrial challenges by having the increased capacity and low-latency requirements to reliably support thousands of IIoT sensors and robotic machines in complex environments.
Some key industrial 5G use cases are the following:
- Preventive maintenance through IoT sensors
- Productivity and performance monitoring
- Providing internet connectivity to legacy machines without replacement
- Controlling robotics remotely with no noticeable delay or interference
Healthcare networks are often complicated, encompassing multiple medical machines, patient sensors, healthcare applications, and monitoring devices that span thousands of square feet. Devices must remain secure but accessible. Patient data must remain confidential but available to the right staff.
Hospitals use IoT sensors to track the performance and location of critical hardware such as insulin pumps, ventilators, crash carts, and EKG machines. These sensors can help maintenance know where equipment is and when it needs to be repaired. Managers can also use this data to understand their capacity and inventory levels for equipment and even medication.
Since cellular devices use secure SIM authentication, cellular networks prove to be a much more secure option than other wireless alternatives, making it easier to stay compliant. Even in the busiest hours, hospital IT staff can rest easy knowing their 5G network can reliably support a growing number of patients, visitors, and device inventory.
Some key healthcare 5G use cases are the following:
- Inventory management of machines, drugs, supplies, and medical waste
- Physical location tracking of life-saving equipment
- Preventive maintenance sensors that automatically create work orders
- Secure cross-campus service for both staff and patients
Autonomous vehicles need to be able to process information and adjust accordingly in as little time as possible. The ultra-low latency, increased capacity, and coverage will enable fleets of autonomous vehicles to receive updates and make changes. While driverless vehicles aren’t everywhere yet, 5G will play a critical role in how vehicles communicate and function at scale.
Weather stations can share insights with autonomous drones in the air, allowing them to adjust their course automatically with no human input. Other vehicles may be able to share insights with each other to help avoid accidents, reduce highway congestion, and improve safety standards.
Vehicle manufacturers will be able to update firmware, patch security flaws, and add new features leveraging 5G networks. As this technology evolves new opportunities will emerge for companies to serve the autonomous vehicle market by using private 5G as the backbone of their business.
Some key autonomous vehicle 5G use cases are the following:
- Automatic updates, security patches, and feature additions
- Real-time weather, traffic, and safety updates to vehicles in route
- Safe retrieval of stolen vehicles
- Vehicle-to-vehicle communication
Both college campuses and K–12 schools can leverage private 5G to provide campus-wide network access and bridge the digital divide. College campuses have the challenging task of providing secure network access for students and staff across the size of a small town. This can be a challenge especially with multiple buildings and outdoor study areas that need wireless access.
The power levels cellular networks offer make it easy to provide blanket coverage over many acres of both indoor and outdoor space. Through a combination of indoor and outdoor infrastructure, college campuses can ensure lecture halls, study areas, and outdoor spaces are adequately covered.
Long-range roof-mounted antennas can extend well beyond the campus ground and allow students to access school resources from their homes, even if they don’t have internet at home. Since each device uses SIM technology, IT staff can easily manage devices and segment staff and student networks with ease.
Some key education 5G use cases are the following:
- Providing controlled internet access for students at home
- Designing reliable cellular blanket coverage across campus
- Using IoT sensors to track classroom attendance, study room availability, and public transportation
- Securely segment staff and students networks
- Promote fast and reliable outdoor learning
Smart cities may seem like a concept from the future, but they are already here. City governments use 5G networks to provide better services to their citizens, track public utilities, and monitor city infrastructure proactively. In some cases, municipalities offer portions of the 5G network for their citizens to use as a free service.
Services such as waste management and water treatment can use 5G networks to track their fleet and monitor critical infrastructure for issues. IoT-enabled dumpsters and trucks can monitor fleet inventory and help cities understand how much waste they produce and where that waste accumulates.
Transportation departments can use 5G to monitor for highway congestion and reliably access high-definition, live video feed of traffic cameras across the city. With the ability to span hundreds of miles and support millions of devices, 5G networks make smart cities a reality.
A few smart city 5G use cases are the following:
- Fleet tracking
- Infrastructure monitoring with IoT sensors
- City-wide video surveillance and traffic cameras
- Secure and controlled internet access for residents
Whether you’re moving people or products, the scale of 5G provides more timely and accurate insights into where things are going and when they’ll arrive. In shipping, massive warehouses need to stay connected in order to provide updates to managers. IoT sensors on pallets and shipping containers can share their arrival and departure from facilities automatically. On the back-end, managers can use that data to track performance against their baseline and even more accurately predict future arrival times of new shipments.
Similarly, fleet tracking provides insights for both public and private transportation. Organizations can use real-time metrics to understand their efficiency, utilization, and best routes based on the latest data.
A few key transportation 5G use cases are the following:
- Fleet tracking
- Automatic time-stamping of shipped and received products
- Dynamic insights based on live data
- Highly accurate inventory management and capacity planning
Outdoor venues, stadiums, and theme parks all face a considerable challenge when it comes to providing reliable network access. These environments tend to be both indoors and outdoors, cover large swaths of land, and have a high number of devices they need to support.
The power level 5G operates at allows organizations to cover large areas with significantly less hardware than other wireless technology. By using multiple frequency bands and a range of different hardware, entertainment companies can ensure reliability and speed both inside and outdoors.
Small and medium cell towers positioned throughout the park can provide blanket coverage for both guests and staff members. Since 5G has such a large capacity for devices, the network won’t grind to a halt when the park is full or the stadium is packed.
A few key entertainment 5G use cases are the following:
- Proactive maintenance via IoT sensors
- Secure and reliable guest access through neutral host services
- Ensuring both indoor and outdoor areas have high-speed network access
- Providing reliable service to a large unpredictable number of devices
Is 5G Right for Me?
If you’re an enterprise or large organization that relies on continuous performance and strict uptime requirements, private 5G could be the solution you’re after.
Celona works directly with organizations to ensure their private 5G networks are successful. Through product training, plug-and-play hardware, and done-for-you templates, Celona offers a simple way to get unmatched performance and visibility out of your private mobile network.
The Celona Solution
Celona partners with organizations to provide private 5G as a seamless turnkey solution.
Celona utilizes edgeless enterprise architecture and cloud-based artificial intelligence to make implementing private mobile networks an out-of-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.
Plug-and-play devices can be quickly deployed throughout the facility, while proactive monitoring ensures network SLAs, such as throughput and latency requirements are consistently being met.
If you’re building your network for the future, Celona can help. Check out our private LTE network planner to see what your network would look like on the CBRS spectrum, or test-drive the Celona Solution Architecture for yourself through our free trial.