5G Networks Revolutionising the IoT Landscape

With recent 5G network driving the IoT landscape, we consider how existing infrastructure obstacles can be navigated so businesses can progress towards 6G

The next era of 5G technology is well underway, posing both opportunities and challenges for the Internet of Things (IoT).

With continued demand for data processing and communication services, 5G technology can help improve operational efficiencies. Combining 5G and IoT, with use cases like energy management, healthcare and remote monitoring, could help businesses tap into lower latency, higher speeds and a larger bandwidth.

Working to increase speed and bandwidth, 5G can help to usher in a new era of digital transformation across leading technology sectors, including AI, Big Data and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). In addition, it could revolutionise essential industries like manufacturing, transportation and energy.

With the continued rollout of 5G set to transform connectivity, the technology is well-positioned to support IoT use cases that require high-speed communication or rely on fast data analysis. It will also allow for more control over network characteristics, with businesses being able to program IoT devices to individual use cases.

Handling advanced 5G challenges

In an ever-evolving technological landscape, organisations would do well to transform their strategies and operations to adopt a cloud-based approach to remain competitive.

As businesses move further towards 6G and its future capabilities, the next phase of 5G will be to develop more advanced 5G strategies in 2024. This type of 5G, referred to as 5G-Advanced, can work to support technological advances like extended reality (XR) technology, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) and cloud gaming. This progress could utilise AI to improve energy efficiency within a network, load balancing and mobility management, all at a lower cost.

However, Chen Arbel, Associate Vice-President Business Development, 5G, at Thales, warns of possible challenges posed by such rapid advancements. He says: “The surge in connected devices could lead to significant data accumulation, potentially posing privacy risks. This encompasses broad data collection, location tracking, vulnerabilities in IoT devices, network susceptibilities and supply chain risks. 

“This will present challenges across all sectors, as it widens the potential attack surface for cyber threats.”

To mitigate these threats, Arbel suggests that businesses must be proactive when adopting 5G technology, prioritising: safeguarding individuals, devices and infrastructure, incorporating security by design and encrypting data both in transit and at rest. In addition, businesses should ensure precise authentication of all participants on the network. 

“While these steps cannot offer absolute security and risk elimination, they will significantly advance the implementation of heightened connectivity, fostering further growth and innovation,” he says.

Revolutionising the IoT landscape

With a commitment to connectivity, speed and reliability, 5G-enabled IoT devices could enable enterprises to manage their data via network slicing, thereby opening up new secure ways of data management.

Enabling greater business agility and innovation, allowing numerous industries to become more productive and efficient, 5G offers faster bandwidth speeds, improved wireless connectivity and more reliable communication for essential platforms like emergency services, cybersecurity, healthcare and travel.

According to Bjorn Andersson, Senior Director, Global Digital Innovation Marketing and Strategy at Hitachi Vantara, 5G is a game-changer for enterprises as it can support a much wider variety of customer and business users due to its ability to deliver multiple types of access to mobile and fixed wireless applications.

“One of the core strengths of 5G lies in its multilayered network architecture,” he comments. “This architecture is software-driven and virtualised, offering new levels of flexibility and scalability that were previously unattainable. For enterprises, this means the ability to integrate a broader range of digital devices, including IoT sensors, across cloud and edge networks.

“This integration capability is essential for harnessing data and leveraging AI-driven insights, enhancing operational efficiency, and improving safety across industries.”

Ben Coffin, 6G Solutions Manager at Keysight, adds: “5G has offered new functionality for IoT, adding new features to both accommodate the density and capacity needed for massively connected devices as well as giving devices more freedom to reduce features to use the 5G network. 

“5G was developed around a need for greater flexibility in a wireless communication standard, being able to dynamically allocate spectrum, adapt waveforms for optimal use, and handle various degrees of MIMO (multiple input multiple output) technologies.”

The next generation of IoT innovation: Safely preparing for 6G

Businesses will need to consider initial challenges and even obstacles, when it comes to integrating 5G – and eventually 6G – into existing IoT infrastructures.

“Overcoming these challenges requires a more tactile approach that focuses on scalable, flexible solutions, leveraging edge computing to handle data processing closer to the source and adopting robust security measures,” comments Andersson. “Collaborative efforts between technology providers and enterprises are a necessary part of navigating these obstacles and harnessing the full potential of next-generation connectivity.”

With 5G placing increased demands onto essential industries, in addition to data centres having to handle more devices and connections, businesses will need to navigate infrastructure upgrades so that their organisation is best prepared. As a result, their operations are likely to be more seamless and secure.

There will also be rising costs to navigate, particularly during an energy crisis, as increases in data requires greater data protection to ensure that the pathway to 6G does not lead to new digital threats

5G networks could become vulnerable to attack if not implemented correctly. SDxCentral highlights that many IoT devices have weak legacy authentication mechanisms which can make them more susceptible to being compromised by threat actors.

“In 2022, IoT malware attacks increased by 87%, and many public and private entities are implementing cybersecurity standards,” explains Coffin. “Having a holistic view of cybersecurity readiness for IoT will be a major need for vendors as IoT devices increase in adoption.”

The pathway from 5G to 6G will ultimately serve to unlock ground-breaking IoT innovations, when combined with other new technologies such as AI, edge computing and VR/AR. With businesses only now starting to pick up the pace with IoT adoption, they will be reliant on 5G/6G to advance further.

“Stakeholders should shift their focus to building more agile infrastructure to prepare, as well as foster strategic partnerships that will enhance any current or future offerings,” Anderssson describes. “With the prioritisation of scalability and flexibility within digital ecosystems, businesses can strengthen their position by leveraging the full potential of 5G/6G for IoT and to spearhead technological advancements and real, tangible business benefits.”

Coffin offers up use case examples, adding: “XR training is proving to be a much more reliable method of training employees than classroom training and it is likely that we will see XR headsets in grocery stores, factories, and retailers across the globe in the future. 

“For enterprise IoT stakeholders, the cybersecurity risks of IoT are one the major issues that the industry needs to solve and prepare for, especially as we see such a massive rise in IoT devices across a wide number of industries. Taking steps to build a cybersecurity test strategy now will be invaluable in the coming years as 5G and 6G enable more use cases and unlock greater IoT potential.”


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