Why are there so few 5G use cases?
Why do we keep seeing the same 5G use cases over and over again? The reality is that there are thousands of use cases either in production or being explored by companies throughout Europe and around the world. Business leaders should talk to the companies offering 5G solutions and challenge them to show them how the technology could help them.
Why do we keep seeing the same 5G use cases over and over again? You could think that 5G is only relevant if you want to run thousands of autonomous robots or finally find a use for all those VR headsets you bought a few years ago. The reality is that there are thousands of use cases either in production or being explored by companies throughout Europe and around the world.
With a private 5G network, the company has exclusive access to the network operating at that frequency—unlike say Wi-Fi, where everybody uses the same frequencies, leading to the possibility of congestion or interference. Coupled with edge computing, you can imagine an application that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to analyse video footage of a manufacturing line. Being able to sense a problem and take action quickly is critical. Having the server doing the work in the same building and communicating over 5G can enable near-real-time responsiveness—tens of milliseconds, or even less.
These capabilities mean that far from there not being many use cases, there are so many that choosing just a few examples is hard. Let’s take just one area, improving the safety of workers:
The speed of many automated guided vehicles (AGVs) is currently limited to reduce the likelihood of accidents. With the reliability and near-real-time responsiveness of private 5G it will be possible to raise the limit, increasing productivity.
Video monitoring can also help improve safety, but it has been limited by the need for somebody to actively watch the footage. That can be quite a challenge on a large site with many potential hazards. But with private 5G, video can be transmitted to an on-site server in milliseconds, analysed automatically and anomalies reported in time to prevent accidents. This has hundreds of safety applications.
It’s been tested on oil rigs—another area where getting reliable, cost-effective connectivity can be challenging—to confirm that people are wearing the correct protective equipment. If a worker, say, takes off one of their protective gauntlets, the machine they are working on can be stopped automatically, potentially preventing serious injury.
In the medical world, the same technology is being used to guide workers through the complex process of putting on the gear needed to protect them from exposure. An AI/ML-driven assistant can provide near-real-time guidance and confirm that each step is completed correctly.
The same technology could also be applied to a manufacturing environment where workers assemble complex equipment, where it could be integrated throughout production. If an operator were about to miss a step or make an incorrect connection, they could be warned and a fault prevented. As well as reducing waste, this could prevent worker injuries and faulty goods entering the supply chain.
Having intelligence at the edge could also make autonomous vehicles lighter and cheaper. Instead of having to rely on onboard computing power, devices can transmit data to an edge computing server and commands be sent back in near-real-time. This can help make drones and ground robots smarter, better able to work together and capable of going longer between charges.
Private 5G can also give workers access to expert help, wherever they are. With a wearable device, an engineer can have a near-real-time “see what I see” connection with an expert. Timely access to the right guidance could both prevent mistakes that either put the worker in danger, and errors that could lead to an incident further down the line.
These are just a few examples of how private 5G and edge computing can help improve safety. And this is just one area where they can help solve real business problems.
Business leaders should talk to the companies offering private 5G solutions and challenge them to show them how the technology could help them. If the supplier can’t suggest dozens of relevant use cases, and even showcase some of them, then you should look for a partner that can.
To find out more read Verizon’s paper ‘Let’s talk about 5G’
Guest blog by Gary Baker, Global Product Marketing, Private 5G, MEC & IOT
As a senior IT professional for over 20 years, Gary has been at the forefront of leveraging new and innovative technology to bring new products, solutions and services to market. His extensive experience in strategy development has enabled him to help businesses from all sectors across the globe with their transformation goals.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) was formed on June 30, 2000 and is one of the world’s leading providers of technology and communications services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $133.6 billion in 2021. The company offers data, video and voice services and solutions on its award-winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity, security and control.
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