Virtualization Technology News and Information
DE-CIX 2020 Predictions: Beyond the Smartphone - Investigating the Future of 5G

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

By Dr. Christoph Dietzel, Global Head of Products & Research at DE-CIX

Beyond the Smartphone - Investigating the Future of 5G

For end-users, the success of 5G hinges on a few key requirements: a new mobile device, an appropriate provider, and a region where the coverage is guaranteed. When rollout, availability and seamless network coverage is achieved, users can expect to enjoy a range of benefits. For instance, high-resolution videos can be viewed on the go and network overloading - for example, in conjunction with large events - will become a thing of the past. However, if we look into the future and broaden our scope beyond the mobile user to explore the economic and industrial potential, 5G is much more than simply a new mobile standard.

5G encompasses a range of technical innovations, including new modulation schemes and air interfaces that enable higher data transfer rates and increase energy efficiency. 5G also employs a considerably broader frequency band to cope with far more devices than its predecessor. With 5G, direct communication between devices is possible without the provider's backbone, which can, for example, empower the communication between autonomous cars or support other cutting edge applications. Subsequently, a range of futuristic use cases with the potential to revolutionize a range of industry verticals are emerging onto the tech scene.

The New World of Agriculture

The future of agriculture will leverage data gathered from cutting-edge IT equipment to improve crop yields and more. In the future, special sensors will be able to gather vital insights into soil quality and weather, which will then be analyzed by machine learning or artificially intelligent algorithms to determine the right quantities of water, pesticide, and fertilizer for every single plant. The result will be a more self-regulating, efficient and effective world for farming.

Beyond these sensors, 5G technologies can be used to optimize, automate and simplify the control of agricultural machines. For example, an autonomous agricultural vehicle can follow a tractor by being synchronized to its speed and position. Predictive maintenance also promises to keep operations up by indicating to personnel when a machine component will malfunction or need replacing. This type of use case will effectively reduce disruption, cut maintenance costs and ensure continuity for a host of mission-critical elements.

Although, for these applications, the database and software need to be kept near the farming machinery involved. These next-generation capabilities may be realized through individual operations or regions being equipped with an infrastructure for data collection, analysis and storage, or they may be supported by agricultural corporations that produce solutions for purchase. 

A New Breed of Industry

Connected manufacturing plants of the future will utilize simulation and virtualization, predictive maintenance, and error analysis to reinvent and optimize operations. Another possible application is mobile (transport) robots. However, when it comes to the future of the industry, the massive use of sensors that is required for these applications makes data transfer over cable impractical.

With these applications in play, communication networks within the industrial factories of the future need to support a variety of demands. Each of the applications have their own unique latency, throughput, and reliability requirements. As a result, both the WiFi-based IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and the cellular mobile network will need to remain side by side to carry the main load in wireless communication.

To achieve this approach with security, reliability, and performance, companies will likely opt to use their own base stations. The number of base stations will vary according to the size of the factory and the performance requirements, but in more extreme cases, the cell radius may need to be less than a meter. This necessitates hundreds of bases or more. Luckily, the costs of these base stations are reduced through the Cloud RAN (Radio Access Network) concept, in which the signal processing is relocated to the edge. As a result, computing occurs closer to the user, which prevents network overload, reduces latency, and ultimately contributes to the enhanced performance of applications.

Smarter Energy Solutions

We have seen power supplies be transformed in recent years from a few centralized power stations to a decentralized structure that includes small local generators and increased use of renewables. Now, with the introduction of 5G, the energy sector will be able to build smart power grids. Smart grids offer improved monitoring possibilities and improved power distribution as a result of their sectors' ability to reduce energy transport by being decoupled from and reconnected to the main grid. New storage solutions with more efficient battery technologies will also offer the ability to store electricity from renewable sources locally, and thus further reduce energy transport.

Questions That Still Remain

Alongside the private use of mobiles, 5G technology holds significant potential for many exciting use cases across business and industry that otherwise would not be possible, such as the connection of countless devices, machines, and sensors in a factory. However, the widespread use of 5G will also lead to growth in the total data volume in the Internet backbone, necessitating new approaches to data storage and processing. With new technologies depending on low latency, data processing and storage will need to move toward the edge of the network where the data is created. Profitability may also come into play if edge computing is not widely available.

Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) will also become a critical component of empowering the 5G future. For instance, if autonomous cars are to communicate with each other, Internet hubs will be needed near the freeways. While these promising use cases and critical questions continue to define the trajectory of IT, it is clear that the introduction of 5G has implications that go far beyond pure wireless communication.


About the Author

Christoph Dietzel 

Dr. Christoph Dietzel has been Head of the Research & Development Department at DE-CIX since 2017. Previously, he was a part of the DE-CIX R&D team and responsible for several research initiatives, including numerous projects funded by the public sector (EU, German Federal Ministries). Chris is a PhD student at the INET group, supervised by Anja Feldmann at the Technische Universität Berlin and has published at various renowned conferences and for journals including ACM Sigcomm, ACM IMC, IEEE Communications Magazine, and IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications.

His ongoing research interests focus on Internet measurements / security, routing, and traffic classification. Chris is also highly interested in IXP-related aspects of the Internet ecosystem.

Published Monday, October 28, 2019 7:24 AM by David Marshall
There are no comments for this post.
To post a comment, you must be a registered user. Registration is free and easy! Sign up now!
<October 2019>