5G Transforms Vertical Industries
With more and more 5G networks up and running every month, and commercial 5G services now available in multiple markets, mobile operators are turning their attention to seeking out new business opportunities that can help deliver the best return on their investments and make the most of their new network capabilities. Most of the marketing dollars have so far been spent on promoting 5G as a super-fast mobile broadband solution, but 5G can do so much more than that. The greatest new business opportunity for 5G service providers may actually lie in developing and delivering specific 5G-enabled services that are tailored for enterprises in specific vertical sectors.
This is thanks to the capability of 5G networks to deliver services that can benefit from low latency and massive access, in addition to enhanced bandwidth. Different industries will benefit from all or some of these enabling properties: Here are a few vertical industry examples that stand out.
Intelligent mining. One of the oldest industries stands to benefit from 5G in a big way. China's Baogang Group, best known for its iron and steel facilities, has integrated many 5G technologies in its operations, including autonomous driving mining vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicle for HD mapping of geographic information, mine production scheduling and monitoring, and wireless data transmission. Li Degang, Vice President of Baogang Group and Chairman of Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Union Co., Ltd foresees 5G playing a more central role in intelligent mining, especially the potential to revolutionise the mining control system, when the latency in live 5G networks can drop below 20ms.
Entertainment: The most obvious case is in live event broadcasting, which requires large teams (as many as 150), fleets of vehicles, millions of dollars' worth of broadcast technology equipment and, often, expensive satellite transmission channels in a conventional set-up.
With 5G, a comparable broadcasting event will be moved to the cloud. Broadcasters can lease a 5G network package from telecom operators for the duration of the event. The network will only be a fraction, less than 1%, of the cost of the conventional broadcasting suite, and will also include the customer premise equipment (CPE) on both ends. The whole operation needs a team of only five people. Real-time video signals are sent to the TV station over 5G networks using Massive MIMO technology. What is value-adding for the end users is, thanks to the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G communication, viewers will be able to enjoy more immersive experience, as opposed to the current two-dimensional screen. Such superior experiences will also help the broadcasters generate higher returns.
Gaming. The most engaged gaming population, the youth, constantly craves something new (especially new experiences) to sustain their engagement and 5G can deliver that new experience. According to Hu Zhipeng, NetEase Vice President and President of NetEase Thunder Fire Studio, one of the world’s largest video game publishers, 5G will enable new gaming experience from at least three angles: better experience thanks to 5G’s high bandwidth and low latency; improved game quality, including faster downloads, better picture quality, and smoother playing experience; and accelerated development and popularisation of VR and AR games. Additionally, the high bandwidth, low latency, and high availability enabled by 5G will reduce the reliance of high-end games on premium devices. The heavy computing parts of the games can be gradually moved to the cloud, therefore reducing the price barrier of game devices presented earlier to gamers.
VR and AR. The impetus that 5G can provide VR and AR goes way beyond gaming. E-commerce, education, healthcare, and professional training for businesses can all benefit from step improvement with 5G. This does not only mean that VR/AR headsets can finally get rid of the cords connecting them to computers earlier, but also in other ways. For example, the headsets will be much lighter because 5G enables many function modules for heavy computing, as well as large amount data storage, to be removed from the headsets, and the functions moved to the cloud. The headsets will enable 4K display to make the experience more real-life like. The immersive interaction enabled by 5G’s high bandwidth and low latency can produce the so-called “six degrees of freedom” experience.
Cloud Robots. One sure sign of the trend of accelerating automation is that smart robots will play an increasingly important role in both the business and the consumer markets. For these robots to be smart enough, they need to be equipped with the most advanced analytics, intelligence, and automation capabilities. However, it will not be practical to install such a central control system on every robot. It will be physically too challenging. An electronic brain with the same computing power as a human brain would weigh about 2,000 tons and consume up to 26 million watts. Even if a strong enough 'brain' can be miniaturised in the future, this would not be the most efficient use of resources as a big redundancy of computing power will sitting idle most of time.
Therefore, it will be logical to build a 'super brain' in the cloud and connect it with multiple physical robots on the edge. According to Huang Xiaoqing, CEO of CloudMinds, such a connection will include three key components: a media stream switching system; an integrated, AI-based multi-modal system; and a robotic evolution system. Additionally, such a system will be human-assisted, so that human intervention can be applied at critical moments to shut down the robot or network.
5G will provide the ideal connectivity for such a system. The bandwidth demand of intelligent cloud robotics users will be 100 times more than that of regular mobile users, making 5G a perfect fit for this application. Moreover, since robots need to operate with high sensing capabilities and low latency, they have high demands for both high uplink bandwidth and low downlink latency, often across large land areas. For example, many megacities of the world cover thousands of square kilometres. The technology properties of high speed and low latency over wide area are exactly what 5G is going to support.
Public service. In addition to smart cities, 5G will also be extremely helpful to other public sector functions, especially those service that need fast reaction, for example, law enforcement and emergency rescue. In both cases, 5G-connected drones can be flown to scenes instantaneous, especially in situations where the despatch of ground personnel is hampered. HD videos captured by the drones can be live streamed back to the control room for surveillance and intelligence-backed decision making.
To make these scenarios come true we need the latest 5G technologies to be integrated in the networks. Huawei, as the market leader with over 50 commercial 5G contracts under its belt, has worked with mobile operators in different market to explore these business opportunities extensively, including real life commercial cases. These are supported by Huawei’s industry leading technology like Massive MIMO, and its full range of an end to end product portfolio, like the easy-to-deploy Blade Site and Book RRU base stations. The results have been very encouraging, the values are well recognised by the operators and the vertical industry partners, and more commercial rollout is already on its way.
This content is sponsored by Huawei.