Monday, October 2, 2023

Walk Into The Future With Deployment of 5G IoT

By Ashish Khare

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The introduction of 5G networks is revolutionizing the way we live and work, with the Internet of Things at the forefront of this change. Imagine a world where your devices seamlessly communicate with each other, providing you with real-time data, improved efficiency, and lightning-fast speeds. Keep reading to learn more about the exciting advancements in 5G IoT and how it is shaping the world of tomorrow

Male doctor wearing virtual reality glasses. 5G Medical ConceptThere is a huge library from an overall Internet of Things (IoT) standpoint. Many of the modules work from application to application, and within the device they perform communication from one device to another. But the core communication module decides how you are enabling data acquisition from one system to your larger solution. That is where the common language or the common wireless protocols come into action.

Gone are the days of wired devices to a large extent. Five years down the line you may not even see the RJ45 port on your office desk unless you have a highly specific application. The majority of the desks will be without a land port.

What’s Coming?

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People perceive wireless things in a very different way. There are some who do not want anything wireless. So is the situation with many cable manufacturing companies; they are also innovating every day and adapting to the changes.

Wireless communication is nothing new. There are many options mentioned here and many of them play in a specific segment. Considerations include whether or not it works both indoors and outdoors, whether it can penetrate a wall or not, whether it is impacted by vegetation, and whether it can cover long distances.

All of these technologies are good at doing what they are developed for. Many of the technologies are also in competition with one another. So, naturally, some will excel, some will just survive, and some may end up dying.

We all have wireless-enabled credit cards. We just have to tap it on the credit card machine and the payment is made. India has a limit on the amount that can be deducted this way daily but globally it is a major issue.

These technologies bring multiple benefits. Similarly, if we talk about wireless from a cellular technology perspective (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G), 5G is the most disrupted generation of them all.
You will be surprised to know that we analysed 200 projects of which 150 were done on traditional technologies. Out of those 150 projects most projects’ hardware material cost was higher than the base device. The time taken to deliver that device compared to the time taken for installation of these things was lower. So, these are the facts that further push the option of wireless technologies.

You need to connect power to a device and then you can connect the Ethernet cable along with it. The very purpose of specific communication options in places where something is not already present is lost if you need power. So that is where the low-power local area network (LAN) and low-power wide area network (WAN) are becoming a reality. These are all essentially the need of the hour.

This is why LoRa and NB-IoT are being picked up. Each of them has its own benefits. The big benefit of LoRa is that it is non-regulated, long-ranged, and requires very minimal power. Anyone can buy an off-the-shelf LoRa gateway and put it in their own network server and then connect.

Another factor to consider is market reach. If you are playing in a specific segment, it is important to know how you are going to reach out to the market, what is the market demand, and how are you going to enable it. These are some of the key parameters.

There are many protocols that have a high bandwidth and there are many others that provide a speed of a few kbps only. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Bluetooth, which have a higher bandwidth, allow you to send video files and PowerPoint presentations, etc.
But as soon as you add LE, it will restrict the bandwidth while increasing battery life and range. If your device cannot communicate to the external world with significant interoperability, then you are restricting yourself. Consumer IoT may not need to be interoperable since it can easily be adapted to any other technology.

Then comes the cost and affordability that define the market you are targeting and the business problems that are being solved. Because, at the end of the day, if any of the TSP, SI, or CSP goes to a customer then the customer only seeks the return on investment (RoI) from them on the overall solution. Mostly the deals are funded by these people only.

The typical approach is to minimize the cost of a third party and improve your own margin. So, if a device costs too much, people may start looking for alternate options. It is therefore important to align cost parameters to the use case.

The last but most important part is modularity from a communication standpoint. While we have so many technologies available, nobody can guarantee that all these technologies will last for more than five years; with newer technologies coming out the old ones become obsolete.

Some Important Use Cases

It is important to check if the communication that we are performing is adding to the radiation or not. We all know that there is a continuous signal available in the environment for different options, but the convergence happens on the receiving device. The convergence strength increases at the receiving end. This is why it is advised not to keep your phone in your shirt’s pocket.

Let us consider some important use cases of 5G.

Healthcare and hospitals: Anything that deteriorates a patient’s health is not desirable. The industry that you want to cater to should be considered in terms of the wireless protocol you would be using. Most of healthcare devices have to go through health and safety clearances and other similar certifications.

Workplaces: Most workplaces have Wi-Fi connectivity. But if you need an occupancy sensor on every desk then Wi-Fi may not be the best option. This is because those work desks are already configured for a particular number of ports on each desk with their utility assigned. There could be wires hanging around all over the place out of their intended sockets, so here LoRa may be a great option.

LoRa-based products are gaining significant adoption: The Covid pandemic has proven that there is no need for the entire staff to be present in an office to work. You can optimize your work better in a hybrid work setting where some people work from home or anywhere. This is where market assessment plays an important role.

Predictive maintenance: Predictive maintenance does not only happen on an application. An application is just one layer that runs the algorithm. It is the device’s duty to decide whether the right data has been fed to that algorithm in a timely manner, as many people miss out on the time synchronicity of the data.

If this data is not on time sync then your predictions cannot be accurate. Depending on how out of sync the data is, the accuracy level will go down as well. That is why we talk about predictive maintenance a lot. If you are building a sensor set for predictive maintenance use cases, then it is better that you use the same communication technology with a similar time lag which is going to come from the system connection.

5G is going to combine different layers that are disruptive in nature. It can do broadband communication, high-reliability communication, and much more. It also serves machines that are required in saving lives. Anything that requires a long-range, lower bandwidth, and high speed will be catered to by 5G. The reality today is that there are a number of devices and sensors which support 5G and people are mostly focusing only on broadband now.

Finally, this is the right time to invest in 5G as it is becoming a reality. India is adapting to this change very quickly. Private 5G is going to be faster than public 5G from an IoT use case perspective. It is going to ultimately address the basic concern of plants’ operation on issues like security, connectivity, reliability, and multiple communication requirements through a single technology.

This article is based on a tech talk given by Ashish Khare, General Manager, Global Head IoT and 5G, Wipro Limited at India Electronics Week 2022. It has been transcribed and curated by Laveesh Kocher, a tech enthusiast at EFY, who has a knack for open-source exploration and research

Ashish Khare is General Manager, Global Head IoT and 5G at Wipro Limited


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