The past five years have been a period of rapid evolution for the Internet of Things (IoT) and the underlying connectivity technologies that enable it. One of the most significant of these technologies has been 5G, the fifth-generation wireless technology that promises to deliver unprecedented speeds, capacity, and reliability. So, what can the past five years tell us about 5G for IoT and its adoption rates?
Firstly, it’s important to note that the development of 5G has been ongoing for more than a decade. However, it was only in 2019 that we saw the first commercial 5G networks deployed in the United States, South Korea, and China. Since then, the technology has been rolled out in various other countries, albeit at different speeds and levels of coverage.
One of the most significant advantages of 5G for IoT is its ability to handle massive amounts of data in real-time. This capability is particularly essential for mission-critical applications such as self-driving cars, smart cities, and industrial automation. For example, 5G-enabled drones can transmit high-resolution images and video footage in real-time, enabling faster decision-making and improved situational awareness.
Another critical aspect of 5G for IoT is its lower latency, which is the time taken for a device to receive a response after sending a request. Lower latency is crucial for applications that require near-instantaneous responses, such as remote surgery, where even a slight delay could have severe consequences.
The adoption of 5G for IoT has been slower than expected due to several factors, including the high cost of deploying the infrastructure, the complexity of integrating the technology with existing systems, and concerns around security and privacy. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the rollout of 5G networks, with some countries delaying auctions of 5G spectrum and postponing infrastructure upgrades.
Despite the challenges, there are several indications that the adoption of 5G for IoT is gaining momentum. For instance, a recent report by Ericsson predicts that by 2026, there will be 3.5 billion IoT devices connected to 5G networks worldwide, up from 1 billion in 2020. The report also predicts that by 2026, 5G will cover around 60% of the global population, with over 80% of mobile data traffic being carried by 5G networks.
Moreover, there have been several use cases of 5G for IoT in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and transportation. For example, a major German car manufacturer is using 5G to power its smart factory, where robots and machines communicate with each other in real-time to optimize production processes. Similarly, a Japanese hospital is using 5G-enabled medical equipment to provide remote consultations to patients in rural areas.
In conclusion, the past five years have seen significant progress in the development and adoption of 5G for IoT. While there have been challenges in deploying the infrastructure and integrating the technology with existing systems, the benefits of 5G for IoT, including real-time data processing, lower latency, and increased reliability, have led to an increase in use cases and applications across various industries. With the continued development of 5G networks and devices, we can expect to see even more transformative applications of IoT in the coming years.