Wireless connectivity has reached its pinnacle in recent times with the advent of the 5G connections. This 5th generation of the network seamlessly connects everyone and everything worldwide. Across multiple industrial sectors, 5G promises to deliver connectivity with a much higher multi-Gbps peak data speed, more reliability, ultra-low latency, extensive network capacity, and a more consistent user experience. 4G technology accounted for 58 percent of the market in the past year. However, this share is forecasted to decline to 55 percent, while 5G technology is expected to occupy a 25 percent share of mobile technologies by then.
5G and its penetration into the industrial realms
With a myriad of benefits, 5G has become one of the first mobile generations to be leveraged across diverse industrial sectors and use cases. Today, the telecommunications sector has moved beyond communication service providers and digital service providers, where the rapid invasion of IoT and 5G has transformed the traditional landscape. 5G has shown immense prospects in industries of manufacturing, smart ports and transportation, energy and utilities, mining, and manufacturing.
5G in manufacturing
According to ABI Research Report by Nokia, around 92 percent of 600 manufacturers surveyed by these organizations are looking forward to deploying 4G/5G technologies as this promise to improve the flexibility and agility of the factory operations and create a smart factory.
- One of the key advancements that the new technology has driven is the 5G factory automation that helps optimize performances, and productivity, improve visibility and reduce the overall cost of the manufacturing operations.
- Utilizing a 5G connectivity can assist in making the manufacturing environment more flexible in adjusting the operations and processes to meet the business goals while protecting the data and IP.
- Competitiveness being a primary factor for manufacturers, this sector has been looking forward to the extensive deployment of 5G technologies to further enhance the automation of robots and warehouse transportation.
- 5G networks enable manufacturers to build smart factories and garner the benefits of automation, AI, and augmented reality for improved troubleshooting, streamlined operations, performance optimization, and lower manufacturing costs.
5G in energy companies
Another industry where 5G has entrenched itself is the energy sector, helping distribute energy faster and more efficiently. It can help energy management organizations to collect massive volumes of data with very low latency rates.
- Merged with advanced storage technologies and artificial intelligence in the energy sector, it allows energy suppliers to load voluminous databases from the smart sensors and retrieve crucial insights into when to distribute or redistribute power and in the required amount to achieve a secure and stable power supply.
- 5G and the new era of energy digitalization is generating more contemporary use cases overlapping with IoT technology, including smart grid technology, where 5G networks assist in integrating previously unconnected devices to new grids.
- 5G networks can help build new electricity load forecasting software to streamline accurate monitoring and precise forecasting of energy needs.
- Beyond the industrial deployment, 5G and IoT technologies can be leveraged for smart meters to enable users to better understand the individual devices’ energy consumption with more accurate measurements and real-time data collection.
- 5G proves its efficiency in better monitoring, managing, and operating advanced energy systems in other use cases.
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5G in mining
The mining sector has long realized the importance of digitalization and transformation to redefine its operations. This requires massive improvements in the infrastructure and communication networks, which can be driven by 5G. One of the researches by Nokia and Omdia indicates that 5G can potentially generate around US$9 billion in productivity improvements in Latin America by 2035.
- Real-time monitoring - A significant percentage of damage to machinery can be prevented as 5G can enable monitoring in real-time, where mining operators can experience crucial cost reductions in maintenance.
- Self-driving vehicles - Transporting minerals from the extraction point to the deposits and processing areas pose significant risks. Self-driving cars can help prevent accidents and severe injuries to workers while reducing fuel consumption and enhancing efficiency.
- Inspection with UAV - Drones are utilized to inspect areas determined to be unsafe for humans' post-explosions. Inactive periods can be reduced to a great extent.
Complexities of 5G deployment
Despite the wide array of benefits that 5G brings to the plate, organizations face multiple challenges and complexities while deploying 5G effectively.
- Density - One of the primary reasons 5g is extremely complex is its promise to be significantly dense compared to 4G. While a standard 4G macrocell can serve around 25 sq. km with 5G, it requires 20 plus cells with respective antennas and RAN hardware to cover an equal area. When 5G traffic penetrates indoors, the coverage requires even more density. Therefore, the 5G network density drives a raised demand for switching and associated traffic management.
- A massive number of endpoints and operating systems - Additionally, the increased number of operating systems and the multiplying OS versions, multiple endpoints, including different devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, and IoT devices, make it complex to establish and leverage 5G in an efficacious manner.
- Security - This new accelerative technology of 5G has a new share of security risks. Considering the distributed or occasional remote nature of 5G far edge nodes, it is essential to implement some unique capabilities to mitigate the security risks. Many of the 5G wireless telecommunications infrastructure is built on legacy technologies like the 4G LTE network, and any vulnerabilities that already exist in these networks can affect the 5g network. Again, the large volume of data invites more theft attempts for data exfiltration. The implementation of 5G also involves a greater number of components that increase the number of access points and network edges. Generally, 5G technology relies on cellular towers, small cells, beamforming, and cellular devices, increasing the digital attack surface. From the first generation of the mobile network, we have transitioned to the 5th generation today.
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A shift in consumer patterns and demands
5G is not about speed and a greater bandwidth alone but a holistic combination of high-speed connectivity, ubiquitous coverage, and low latency that help different organizations control a greater number of devices remotely and in real-time. The multiplication of technological advancements has made the entire scenario very complex.
How has the change in user demands created challenges around 5G deployment
Consumer demands have also undergone a massive transformation requiring networks to fulfill more criteria than the previous scenarios. For example, today, a consumer leverages a network for not just voice and video calls but downloading and uploading varied content, transferring content, data, and much more. These tasks might have different requirements for:
- Security aspects, and many more factors.
You might simply want to utilize your network to download an OTT content when the network needs to understand that a higher bandwidth is required to download, and again while uploading content, you require greater bandwidth for uploading, and so on, making it complex for the network to switch its characteristics as per the diverse needs.
Such precise attributes must be keyed in when deploying 5G networks to match the demands efficiently. This has driven the extensive implementation of MPNs to allow organizations to utilize a private network with no worries about managing the network and the specific requirements for multiple tasks.
How managed networks are assisting
What is a managed private network?
The managed private network is built, operated, and managed by a third-party service provider that offers the network solutions required by the organization. These managed networks allow the organizations to source the infrastructure, software, and technical support services necessary for operating and managing the IP-based communication network.
Methods of deploying MPN
Primarily, an MPN can be deployed in two methodologies:
- The hardware method, where the third-party network service provider offers their existing hardware infrastructure resources with managed LAN, managed WAN, a managed gateway, wireless networks, and other related aspects.
- The virtual method is achieved by deploying MPN through network slicing. As 5G offers significant speed and throughput of data to the network with low latency and improved reliability, operators can utilize these advantages by using the same physical network.
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What is network slicing?
Network slicing allows the development of multiple virtual networks or network ‘slices’ that can be used for different applications with distinctive requirements. Creating numerous virtual and independent networks within the same physical network allows the operators to define specific characteristics of each slice, such as speed, reliability, latency, and security.
For example, in fleet management, consumers might require different slices for different functions; traffic notification might require low latency and ultra-reliable slice, while infotainment will require higher bandwidth and lower latency. Such network complexities can be seamlessly navigated with network slicing.
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Amidst the plethora of features and benefits offered by 5G, the industries often face testing challenges. As in the case of network implementation, every network implementation possesses different features and requirements which significantly impact the devices connected to it. It also affects how the applications work across it with factors like geographical locations. In addition to this, real device testing is often complicated. Lab tests don’t cover maximum real scenarios that should include not just the devices and apps but the entire environment or 5g ecosystem, from servers to endpoints. Thus, there is a requirement for an end-to-end solution with real-world testing and monitoring to ensure incredible digital experiences for users.
Unlocking the key to this challenge is HeadSpin, offering its extensive testing capabilities to test and monitor user experiences end-to-end with real devices. The platform collects data from the real devices deployed across the world, including smart TVs, mobile phones, web browsers, OTT devices, gaming consoles, and many more, where the HeadSpin appliance helps access these devices via remote control UI/debug bridge. Following this, the data is leveraged in the HeadSpin ML and Data Science platform to execute multiple analytics like AI analysis, root cause analysis, issue detection, and regression intelligence. HeadSpin platform also allows users to view results and reports, interactive dashboards, actionable insights, alerts for critical KPIs, and much more.
HeadSpin for different sectors
Let us walk through some of the crucial areas where HeadSpin can be deployed to leverage the benefits of 5G and overall digital transformation.
HeadSpin for the energy sector
Partnering with an MPN service provider, HeadSpin’s platform assists the command center and field engineer with real-time insights when deployed at power plants. The HeadSpin P-Box efficiently streamlines the operations at power plants by continuously testing and monitoring the IoT applications’ performance connected to the IoT-enabled devices that the field engineers use.
Additionally, HeadSpin seamlessly assists in real-time scenarios for distributed energy sources and their orchestration to meet the field requirements. Several apps and sensors control multiple energy sources and grids. The data between these consumer and industrial IoT apps are crucial for managing the supply-demand chain from the energy generation sources to the consumers. This is where HeadSpin enables testing both the apps and allows data exchange between the source and consumption points. This capability helps manage the parameters like pricing, demand, and many more.
HeadSpin for ports
Interestingly, HeadSpin is an effective solution for today’s automated and connected ports to enhance safety and improve cargo handling and monitoring. For safety, continuous monitoring capabilities for operators and regulators are crucial to ensure appropriate enforcement of BWM guidelines that is possible to achieve through 5G-enabled clouds. Similarly, for cargo handling, smart ports attempt to establish communication with the port before arrival for loading and unloading that allow quick and planned actions to reduce time in the harbor and increase the availability of ships to the owners. With 5G in play, real-time monitoring and managing the cargo in transit will be made easier by creating private IoT networks. HeadSpin’s testing capabilities are the right-matched solution for MPN service providers to enable smart ports with seamless IoT operations with enhanced safety mechanisms and increase the business value.
5G has shown immense potential in spurring innovation across multiple industries. Additionally, the changing consumer trends and the ever-evolving demands, this wireless connectivity technology is opening doors to fulfilling the industry requirements. People can, today, communicate better across all industries and meet, collaborate, and innovate, changing the entire mobile landscape outlook and capabilities. The disruptive prospect of 5G networks is redefining many sectors for both companies and customers. With the increasing usage of 5G, there's been an increased focus on testing to be able to implement 5G rightly and deliver seamless digital experiences. However, amidst a plethora of testing challenges that hinder the seamless operation of wireless connectivity and IoT devices, HeadSpin has emerged as a savior. HeadSpin and its capabilities hold the prospect of redefining the testing scenarios across the globe, gaining visibility into the user’s digital experiences. The company and its offerings have penetrated multiple industrial sectors, today, efficiently navigating the complexities of testing.
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