mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine

Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2019


5G – the slicing and dicing of IoT?
29 May 2019, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT

The new buzzword in the wireless industry is 5G, and it is often used in relation to the Internet of Things (IoT). This has contributed to some confusion as IoT has been broadly gaining traction in the ‘things’ market, leveraging a wide range of connectivity options, including cellular, LoRaWAN and Wi-Fi - a pattern that looks sure to continue.

With 5G expected to rapidly become a reality through the deployment of initial networks by cellular operators around the globe, we believe clear positioning is required to allow enterprises and consumers to drive the IoT market to its full potential.

Market opportunity for 5G

One of the main reasons to enhance 4G, initially positioned as long-term evolution (LTE), is that 4G networks are rapidly becoming congested. More powerful smartphones and competitively priced data plans are continuing to increase mobile data usage, forcing the hand of cellular operators to relieve pressure on existing networks. Due to this stress, operators are looking to move to 5G; otherwise, the current mobile network experience will worsen.

The recent 5G Opportunity Report by Opensignal shows that in 77 countries studied, 4G download speeds vary fivefold between fastest and slowest network hours of the day. Cellular operators want to deliver an optimal customer experience and leverage their investments in licensed spectrum, thereby making 5G attractive due to its more efficient use of this valuable asset.

5G makes use of much higher frequencies, providing much more capacity than the existing LTE frequencies, and while 3,4 GHz – 3,8 GHz channels will be the most popular globally, millimetre-wave (mmWave) frequencies, available now in North America, will support even greater capacities and higher speeds.

However, this higher capacity comes at a cost as these higher frequency bands will prove more challenging to deploy as they are limited by line-of-sight (and thus lacking rural coverage) and can be easily blocked (such as by a wall or simply a hand holding a smartphone). That said, once the industry overcomes these challenges it will pave the way for a consistent, smooth mobile experience without the peaks and valleys in speed we see today.

Supplementing the IoT market beyond 5G

How does this 5G evolution relate to IoT, where the majority of sensors do not need high bandwidth and only communicate a few times daily? IoT is not an exclusive market for cellular operators. Many solutions today are powered by unlicensed alternatives like Wi-Fi and Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology.

To underscore the importance of Wi-Fi, the European Parliament recently expressed its ­favour of the unlicensed band, given it is available today, reliable and cost-effective. This is exactly what we at Semtech see in IoT as well; many smart cities, Industry 4.0-focused enterprises, facility management companies, and even cellular operators have been deploying unlicensed band LoRa-based solutions.

On the other hand, there are new players opting for access to the licensed band. Large international system operators and industrial giants are showing the appetite to acquire spectrum and enter into the IoT market. 5G will also deploy in the unlicensed spectrum, although the MulteFire-driven initiatives could be prohibitive for cost-sensitive use cases and may take some time to come to market.

Choice of alternative technologies is key for the IoT to continue its rapid growth, given the wide range of use cases covered under this catch-all term; however, multiple options create the risk of fragmentation and can drive uncertainty. As cellular operators look to the future, they are sunsetting 2G networks – and 3G in some regions – creating enormous challenges for connected objects. For example, a standard smart meter contract from a utility company has a term of up to 20 years. Over the same period an average consumer changes their smartphone at least five times, a luxury that does not exist in IoT.

The first step towards supporting this need for longevity has always been through standardisation. The likes of 3GPP, Wi-Fi Alliance and LoRa Alliance drive huge ecosystems to ensure solutions are certified, secure and widely available. The next step involves creating market acceptance by providing true value and ease of use for the business cases in question, especially in the consumer market.

In IoT we need to make a clear distinction between ‘critical’ sensing use cases and ‘mass-scale’ sensing use cases. Critical IoT use cases, estimated to be the smallest by volume in terms of overall IoT market share, consist of use cases requiring ultra-high reliability, very low latency and very high availability.

Examples of critical IoT use cases include connected car, industrial robots, traffic safety, and healthcare solutions, which justify a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) and are most likely able to afford the licensed spectrum and related technology cost.

The mass-scale IoT, however, is an order of magnitude larger in terms of market volume and most of its use cases focus on applications where sensors are battery powered. Here, use cases such as smart meters, agricultural cattle monitoring, building occupancy management, supply chain tracking, and smart home smoke detectors require much less data transmission and a very low TCO.

Typically, solutions using the unlicensed band are much better adapted to allow for adequate return on investment and enable the market to control its own destiny. Moreover, the challenge for 5G to expand its network coverage to enable last-mile connectivity to support these use cases is cost-prohibitive. Mobile network operators will continue to focus their investments to meet their licence commitments for enhanced mobile services, their core business.

Looking ahead: what’s next for 5G?

So where does this take us in terms of 5G? For those a bit closer to the industry, so-called ‘slicing’ could be the answer. In simple terms, this refers to IoT that only uses pieces of the overall network core necessary to drive down cost. In the end, a connected water meter does not need all the features currently deployed in a cellular operation support system or business support system, as it is stationary for years and communicates very little data when compared with streaming a movie.

From this perspective, it becomes rapidly clear why many industries, such as utilities, logistics and agriculture, would like to see disruptive innovations like LoRa technology become an integral part of 5G. In the UK, Digital Catapult is collaborating with several innovative companies in a Future Networks Innovation Lab, to facilitate the adoption of low power wide area networks (LPWANs), such as LoRa technology, and 5G in the UK.

Whether the complement of unlicensed and licensed technology will drive a cloud integration into or above the core network, or ‘sliced and diced’ into the 5G standard for ubiquitous coverage, remains to be seen.

Supplied By: Avnet South Africa
Tel: +27 11 319 8600
Fax: +27 11 319 8650
  Share on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Low phase-noise amplifier
    31 July 2019, RFiber Solutions, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    Available in 2,8 x 1,73 x 0,1 mm bare-die and 5 x 5 mm, 32-lead AQFN packaged formats, MACOM Technology Solutions’ MAAL-011151 is well suited for use as a low phase-noise amplifier stage for signal generation ...
  • Wideband digital attenuator
    31 July 2019, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The CMD280 from Custom MMIC is a wideband 5-bit digital attenuator that operates from DC to 30 GHz (covering the L, S, C, X, Ku, K and Ka bands). Each bit of this GaAs MMIC attenuator is controlled by ...
  • Double-balanced X-band mixer
    26 June 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The MM1-0832LSM is a double-balanced mixer from Marki Microwave with an RF/LO frequency from 8 to 32 GHz and an IF frequency from DC to 12 GHz. This high-frequency X-band GaAs MMIC mixer works well as ...
  • Low-noise RF amplifier
    26 June 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The CMD299 from Custom MMIC is a wideband GaAs MMIC low-noise amplifier that operates from 18 to 40 GHz. It provides an output power of up to 7,5 dBm (0,0056 W), a gain of 16 dB, and has a noise figure ...
  • Wideband amp for instrumentation and communications
    26 June 2019, RFiber Solutions, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    MACOM Technology Solutions has rolled out a new wideband distributed amplifier in the form of the MAAM-011275-DIE. Offered as a bare die, this amplifier is well suited for use in test and measurement ...
  • Wideband LTE antenna
    26 June 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    Taoglas announced an addition to its successful Warrior series: the PA740.A antenna. With additional LTE bandwidth and new bands added for 5G functionality, the new antenna is an evolved design from the ...
  • Mini programmable IoT module
    26 June 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The EM510 is an ultra-compact Tibbo BASIC/C-programmable IoT module with a single UART, Ethernet, and optional Wi-Fi/BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) connectivity. The module offers substantial performance ...
  • Low-power IoT module in volume production
    31 July 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF9160 system-in-package (SiP) – an LTE-M/NB-IoT and GPS cellular IoT module – has entered the final volume silicon production phase, having successfully passed a series of major ...
  • External antenna for 868/915 MHz bands
    31 July 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The Shockwave TLS.90.205111 is a mechanically robust, waterproof, external antenna operating at 868 MHz and 915 MHz with 2 metres of low-loss TGC-200 cable and an SMA(M) connector. Manufactured by Taoglas, ...
  • Double-balanced RF mixer
    31 July 2019, RFiber Solutions, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The MAMX-011035 from MACOM Technology Solutions is a GaAs double-balanced passive diode mixer housed in a lead-free 3 mm, 12-lead QFN package. The mixer offers low conversion loss, high linearity and ...
  • Wi-Fi front-end module
    31 July 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The QPF7219, made by Qorvo, is an integrated front-end module designed for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) systems. It integrates a 2,4 GHz power amplifier (PA) with power detector, BAW filter, regulator, transmit-receive ...
  • Hinged 4G LTE antenna
    31 July 2019, RF Design, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The hinged Apex II TG.35 wideband dipole antenna from Taoglas has been designed to cover all cellular, ISM and Wi-Fi working frequencies in the 600-6000 MHz spectrum. It has been primarily designed for ...

Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronics Buyers’ Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual


    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.