By Nermin Mohamed, Head of Telecommunications Solutions at Wind River
In a previous blog series, I talked about the value of 5G in closing the gap of the digital divide and its role in building the future rural networks. In the next decade, the focus for countries and industries will be on closing the digitalization gap across industries. In this new series, we’ll be looking at how 5G can help transform the commercial industry of today to the connected industry of the future.
The rise of 5G
The rollout of 5G over the past 18 months has been nothing short of phenomenal. Despite a global pandemic and the associated economic challenges, the world has moved to 5G four times faster than it did with 4G LTE. In terms of sheer numbers, the growth is impressive. In the first year, 5G gained a total of 236 million subscribers.
5G’s massive improvement in throughput, reliability, and latency means it can adapt to simultaneously serve different segments—from consumers to homes and industries to enterprises. We’ve already seen this in 2020 with remote learning tools, telemedicine, and virtual reality. 5G’s focus on machine-type communications and support for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) opens up a wide range of possibilities for automation and control applications. While 5G can play a transformational role across industries, there is one big question: how can industries ensure that the benefits of 5G warrant the long-term investment costs?
The revolution is coming
To answer that important question, let’s take a high-level look at how 5G is poised to connect and transform different industries, courtesy of a recent McKinsey report that explores their vision of 5G in global business terms.
Mobility: Networks with wide coverage and low latency could support granular communications between vehicles and infrastructure, improving the flow through high-traffic areas. Communications between individual vehicles could improve the performance of AI-controlled vehicles, moving us faster into safer self-driving cars.
Healthcare: Innovations, including what we’ve seen emerge during the pandemic, can support better patient care in many ways. From monitoring patient health remotely using IoT devices to AI-powered diagnostics and workflows, the reliability and low latency of 5G can support applications that give medical personnel the ability to provide higher-quality care to more patients.
Manufacturing: The growth of automated operations that enable precision, high-volume output can spur the growth of industry in many areas. Low-latency commercial and private 5G networks can play roles here, depending on the needs of the specific industry and company.
Retail: By utilizing the speed and connectivity of 5G, retailers can personalize the in-store or at-home shopping experience for each individual. Combine more efficient inventory, warehouse management, and supply chain control, retail could become a smoother, more beneficial experience for both customer and retailer.
The power of private 5G networks
The McKinsey report notes that changes across the four industries we just looked at might generate $2 trillion in potential growth and more than 70% of that growth could be achieved with the existing technologies, starting with 5G. So far, though, most service providers and industry stakeholders have not yet begun to invest in connected industry. So, let’s circle back to the question we asked earlier: how can industries ensure that the benefits of 5G investment warrant the long-term investment costs? Or to put it another way, how can industries leverage 5G technology to build cost-efficient connected industry on a global scale?
The answer, quite simply, is private 5G networks. Why? Because 5G private networks can deliver mission-critical reliability, predictable performance, hard-wired security, extensive coverage and connectivity for virtually any set of circumstances. Private networks offer more flexibility so they can respond quickly to new demands and opportunities . That enables industry to change and innovate with unprecedented speed.
As I discussed in a Wind River blog post about 2021 trends in telecommunications, enterprises using IIoT devices have been driving the adoption of 5G private networks. As they learn from experience and use 5G to improve processes and capabilities, continued growth is expected through the next half-decade or so, with about 80% of manufacturers expected to move to 5G by 2026.
Wind River knows networks
For the service provider, 5G for industry presents a huge opportunity, estimated to be $132 billion by the end of the decade. To take advantage of this opportunity, though, will require strong collaboration between industry stakeholders, service providers, and telecommunications partners.
Wind River software, trusted by both the industrial and telecommunications markets for 40 years, is deployed in over 2 billion devices across the globe (and even in a few rovers on Mars). Trusted by all leading telecom equipment manufacturers, Wind River powers the majority of all current 4G and 5G deployments worldwide. Our history and leadership in telecommunications makes connected industry a market we are eager to explore.
In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll look at how using 5G with the intelligent edge and distributed cloud can connect industry in new ways and so provide new value to industry stakeholders.
 5Gamericas.org. 5G is the Fastest Growing Mobile Technology in History. December 2020.
 Telecomlead. Number of 5G subscribers reach 236mn: Omdia. December 2020.