The power behind the IoT

18th February 2016
Joe Bush

Much has been written about how the IoT will change the way we live our lives and it‘s been the primary buzzword on the lips of technologists for some time. While issues and concerns have justifiably been raised around security and safety, there’s no doubt that the IoT is here to stay.

However, this evolution of the ‘connected’ device will be of little use if those devices can’t connect. Our appetite for wireless connectivity in our everyday lives is insatiable, but whether it’s GPS in your car, streaming a movie or merely receiving e-mail, we’ve all experienced the frustrating experience of weak cellular connection.

This requirement for wireless connectivity will only increase as the IoT becomes more prevalent. There will be an estimated 50 billion ‘things’ that will need to be connected by 2020, from self-driving cars that can connect to traffic lights to smart home appliances, industrial automation systems and connected healthcare devices.

This presents a challenge to 5G technology – the need to accommodate many more users and devices while delivering more data to each user at any instant in time. However, the advent of 5G technology (predicted to be 2020) will allow us to get (and importantly stay) connected far more easily, and will provide faster service, less latency and enable more devices to become connected.

5G networks will also become smarter and will act as networking nodes rather than just terminals. Aicha Evans, Intel’s Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Communication and Devices Group, who is often quoted as saying that, “Everything that computes connects,” also commented, “I call 5G basically the fusion of all of the wireless technology.” And it’s this convergence of existing networks - 2.5G, 3G, 4G, LTE or Wi-Fi - that will transform the way we communicate and interact with the world.

5G will ultimately help support the massive growth in the IoT and enable devices to communicate seamlessly with each other through the convergence of mobile communications and computing. 5G networks will also diffuse intelligence across the entire network, from the device to the data centre. 5G’s combination of high speed wireless communications and efficient cloud computing means that even the tiniest devices will be able to access virtually unlimited computing power.

Asha Keddy, General Manager of Mobile Standards for Advance Tech at Intel, will be speaking on a panel discussion around 5G at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and in the lead up to the event she described 5G as the first network designed to be scalable, versatile and energy smart for the hyper-connected internet of everything world.

She commented: “With 5G, we’ll see computing capabilities getting fused with communications everywhere, so trillions of things like wearable devices don’t have to worry about computing power because the network can do any processing needed.”

In practical terms the adoption of 5G mobile technology will allow businesses to increase their connectivity with their employees who travel or work remotely. In addition, high bandwidth services such as streaming video might be used in ways that are not practical in today’s wireless environment. It will be possible with 5G, for example, to download a feature length HD movie video within seconds.

Urban populations all over the world are increasing, bringing the reality of the ‘smart city’ into focus, and the demand for connected devices will mean that wireless networks will have to be substantial and extensive in order to cope with the demand, and 5G technology will act as the safety net that will allow the IoT to function.

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