How Will 5G Help in IoT Transformation?

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IoT is rapidly evolving and we need 5G technology for addressing the growing needs of low-power, wide-area IoT use cases

Curated by Vinay Prabhakar Minj 

Gartner estimates that there will be more than 20 billion connected devices in the world by 2020, a number that will continue to rise. The current 4G technology will not be able to manage the huge number of connections that will be on the network. These connected devices will require a connection with great capacity. Thus 5G comes into the picture.

5G brings in higher data speeds, low latency, greater bandwidth and network capacity which would revolutionise the IoT industry.

However, a major shift that has taken place between 4G and 5G technology is open source. You have routers and protocols that are open source. All of this will be present on a hardware-software integration layer where it will be completely virtualised. This will be a complete changeover, moving from the traditional model of data centres to the new centre of virtualisation, with more computing power to help 5G.

Various names, one concept

Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects – devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity – that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

IoT has various names with the same definition. Some of them are:

  • M2M (Machine to Machine)
  • Internet of Everything
  • World Size Web
  • Skynet

IoT implementation challenges

Some of the challenges faced in this industry are :

  • Lack of robust standards
  • Security
  • Interfacing various devices (API integration between software and hardware)

Components of IoT implementation

  1. Sensors: According to IEEE, sensors are electronic devices that produce electrical, optical or digital data derived from a physical condition or event. Data derived from sensors is electronically transformed, by another device, into useful information for decision making. The decision is made by “intelligent” devices or people (human-machine interface).

Selection of sensors is greatly impacted by many factors including:

  • Purpose (temperature monitoring, motion detection, etc…)
  • Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Range
  • Resolution
  • Level of intelligence (dealing with noise and interference)

The driving forces for using sensors in IoT today are new trends in technology that have made sensors cheaper, smarter and smaller. Over the years, the cost of a single piece of sensor has fallen from US$ 22 (1992) to just US$ 1.54 (2014). At present, sensors are available at less than 60 cents.

As the cost of sensors has come down, there are now better available connectivity protocols.

Some of the challenges faced by IoT sensors are:

  • Power consumption
  • Security
  • Interoperability
  1. Networks: The second step of this implantation is to transmit the signals collected by sensors over networks with different components such as routers, bridges in different topologies (LAN, MAN, WAN).

Connecting different parts of networks to the sensors can be done by different technologies including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Low Power Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, regular Ethernet, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Li-Fi technology (using light as a medium of communication between different parts of a typical network including sensors).

The driving forces for widespread network adoption in IoT can be summarised as follows:

  • High data rate
  • Low prices of data usage
  • Virtualisation
  • XaaS concept (SaaS,PaaS,IaaS)
  • IPv6 deployment

 Challenges faced by network implementation in IoT are:

  • Enormous growth in the number of connected devices.
  • Availability of network coverage
  • Security
  • Power consumption

The other companets of IoT implementation include Standards, Intelligent analysis and Intelligent actions. Implementing these is not an easy task due to the complex nature of different components of the IoT ecosystem.

Steps for a successful business case of IoT

  • IoT can help build better relationships with your customers, boost productivity and even unlock new revenue streams. Organisations have reported a 19 percent increase in revenue due to IoT adoption. Therefore, one needs to stay at the top of the latest innovations and trends to know how it can benefit your organisation.
  • Companies are concerned about the risks associated with IoT, especially in areas of ROI, complexity, privacy and security. Therefore, to mitigate such risks, we need to plan for issues for a successful IoT project.
  • Building a successful business case demands both inspiration and practicality, for which we need to create a coherence on specific technologies backed-up with use-cases to communicate the value of IoT.

IoT communication standards and regulations

As per IEEE, there are two broad types of standards relevant to the aggregation process: network protocols and communication protocols. These two are driven by data-aggregation standards and regulatory standards.

Network protocols: They refer to a set of rules by which machines identify and authorise each other.  It typically runs on interoperability and aligns with multiple network protocols. Most of the companies are developing standards under OCPC (Open source Communication Protocol Certification). Hence, there is no requirement for obtaining vendor-specific certification, such as Cisco certification.

Communication protocols: Once devices are connected to a network and they identify each other, then communication protocols provide a common language for several devices to communicate with each other. Various communication protocols are used for device-to-device communication: broadly, they vary in format in which data packets are transferred. This includes various layer-to-layer communication protocols.

Data aggregation standards: Data collected from multiple devices come in different formats and at different sampling rates (frequency at which data is collected). One set of data aggregation tools – extraction, transformation, loading (ETL) tools – aggregate, process and store data in a format that can be used for analytics application.

Wireless communication    

It is defined as an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application. These include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LANs, MANs to satellite communication, video conferencing, telemedicine, distance learning and much more.

Types of wireless technologies

There are two types:

  1. Wireless LANs (Wi-Fi)
  • 802.11 standards
  • Mobility support
  1. Wireless MANs (WiMaX)

    802.16 standard

Disadvantages of Wired networks over Wireless networks

Regulations of frequencies

  • Limited availability; coordination is required
  • Useful frequencies are almost all occupied

Bandwidth and delays

  • Low transmission rates (few Kbits/s to some Mbits/s)

Higher delays

  • several hundred milliseconds

Higher loss rates

  • susceptible to interference

Always shared medium

  • lower security and simpler active attacking

CDMA

  • It is called Code Division Multiple Access
  • Uses spread spectrum techniques
  • Data is sent in small pieces over a number of discrete frequencies
  • It has a unique spreading code
  • Its greatest advantage is that it doesn’t assign a single frequency to user secured transmission

  Bluetooth

  • It is basically a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances.
  • Any data or information can be transmitted faster and with high speeds.
  • It uses short-wavelength UHF radio waves from 2.4 to 2.485 GHz.
  • The IEEE standardised Bluetooth is as IEEE 802.15.1

  GPRS

  • Known as General Packet Radio Service.
  • It is a packet-based wireless communication service that permits data rates from 56 kbps to 114 kbps, thus providing a continuous connection to the Internet for mobile phone and computer users.

   Wi-Fi

  • WiFi, or Wireless Fidelity is a generic term that refers to IEEE 802.11 standard for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs).
  • It is an alternative to wired technology which is commonly used for connecting devices in wireless mode.

  GSM

  • It stands for Global System for Mobile Communication.
  • It is a digital mobile telephony system.
  • It was developed as a replacement for first-generation cellular networks.

These technologies illustrate that IoT ecosystem is not limited but keeps growing.

Cellular technologies will enable a wide range of IoT services for mobile health, smart cities, environmental monitoring, connected buildings, asset tracking and much more. And 5G is seen as a precursor for this growth.

IoT is rapidly evolving and we need 5G technology for addressing the growing needs of low-power, wide-area IoT use cases.

Wireless technology comparison

      PANs      WLANs       Cellular         LPWA
Data rates      Low     Medium         High             Low
Cost      Low  Medium/Low         High             Low
Power consumption      Low      Medium         High             Low
Coverage     Short      Short        Medium  Very Long
User setup     Hard      Hard         Easy         Easy

 What makes LPWA preferable?

  • Cost: More than 50 percent reduction compared to broadband LTE, Think 2G or Bluetooth.
  • Consumption: More than 100x lower power than broadband LTE achieving 10+ years battery life.
  • Coverage: 5 – 10x greater compared to broadband LTE.

3GPP technology

3GPP has made a major effort to address the IoT market. The portfolio of technologies that 3GPP operators can now use to address their different market requirements includes:

  • eMTC: Further LTE enhancements for Machine-Type Communications.
  • NB-IoT: New radio added to the LTE platform optimised for the low end of the market.
  • EC-GSM-IoT: EGPRS enhancements which in combination with PSM makes GSM/EDGE markets prepared for IoT.

However, the biggest problem in 5G is pricing. What will be the optimal cost to the customers if we launch a 5G service? This questions is still debated in many forums.

About the author

This article is an extract from a speech presented by  V. Anand, Managing Partner, Anasup Consulting, at IOTSHOW.IN 2019. Anand V is a technology architect and has more than 20 years’ experience in IT. As Managing Partner of Anasup Consulting, he works with clients on the emerging technologies like Blockchain, IOT, Cybersecurity and AI. Earlier, he was associated with companies like Verizon Communications, Cognizant, HP, HCL and Oracle.

Longjam Dineshwori

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