High bandwidths, low latency and secure data: This is what the new mobile communications standard 5G promises. Why network operators like Deutsche Telekom have bought the new frequencies at auction for many billions of euros. And what this means for the digitalization of industry.
No more traffic jams in rush-hour traffic, because the autonomous cars are networked with traffic lights via sensors. They adapt their circuitry to the traffic so that no traffic jams occur in the first place. On factory premises, robots, transport vehicles and machines are networked via sensors and transport goods autonomously from hall to hall. Outside on the company premises, engineers are planning a new storage center. They can already see a model of the building in its original size through their augmented reality glasses: these are not science fiction scenarios, but examples of how the new 5G mobile communications standard will change our everyday lives and the added value in companies.
The foundation stone for this was laid by the auction of the 5G frequencies for Germany. Of the 41 frequency blocks in total, Deutsche Telekom purchased 13 blocks worth €2.17 billion at auction. The commercial use of the mobile communications standard is to roll out in Germany from 2020. By 2025, Deutsche Telekom plans to supply 99 percent of the population and 90 percent of Germany's surface area with 5G. Above all, it is industry that will benefit from the new mobile communications standard.
5G AS KEY TECHNOLOGY FOR INDUSTRY 4.0
That’s because 5G is the key to innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous driving or the development of artificial intelligence. And as a result, it forms the basis for Industry 4.0 - the digitalization of industrial companies. According to a survey by the Capgemini Research Institute, three quarters (75 percent) of the nearly 1,000 executives from 12 countries surveyed are convinced that 5G will make a decisive contribution to the digital transformation of their companies over the next five years. For these executives, 5G is the second most important key factor for their digitalization – coming in just behind cloud computing (84 percent) and ahead of automation (73 percent) and artificial intelligence (66 percent). And no wonder, as 5G promises very low latency, the transmission of high bandwidths and guaranteed data security.
"5G is the future mobile generation. Unlike 3G and 4G, this is not about the 7 billion people who want to communicate with each other, but rather 5G deals with 500 billion end devices, the so-called Internet of Things," says Frank Fitzek, head of the Department of Communication Networks at the Technical University of Dresden. Currently, IoT applications communicate via 4G. Telekom is already testing networked applications with various companies. In the future, these projects will work with 5G. The advantages: Fast transmission of large bandwidths thanks to low latency and high data security.
NETWORKED FACTORY AND SMART PORT
The lighting manufacturer Osram has together with Telekom installed a so-called campus network at its Schwabmünchen factory near Augsburg. With this network, Osram is testing the networking of autonomous transport robots, remote maintenance and repairs via augmented reality. The advantages for Osram: Production is accelerated because, thanks to the short reaction time, the transport robots interact with each other in real time and move autonomously in the factory hall. If a machine is defective, it is immediately repaired by remote maintenance. Even on site, the technicians no longer have to search for the cause of a defect, they can immediately detect the fault using augmented reality. In the future, the campus network – depending on the requirements and network utilization – will be operated with a combination of 5G and 4G.
The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) and Telekom are also testing the network of the future in Europe's third-largest container port and, in particular, so-called network slicing. This means: "The network" no longer exists – instead there are virtual networks operated in parallel on the basis of a common physical infrastructure. These so-called slices can have different structures and even contradictory characteristics. In the 5G network, several virtual networks exist parallel to each other and use the same infrastructure. Taking the Port of Hamburg as an example, this means that networked sensors on ships collect environmental data from the port area in real time, while at the same time intelligent traffic lights flexibly control their switching and engineers use augmented reality to plan new elements.
The distribution of 5G mobile frequencies is an important milestone to ensure that such technologies are also used across the board in factories, universities and hospitals. "We have received the spectrum we wanted. After a long auction, there is clarity now," says Dirk Wössner, member of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom and Managing Director of Telekom Deutschland. "Now we will build a first-class 5G network for Germany. Our customers can look forward to this."
Head of IoT Marketing Communication
Since 2014 Florian Marte has been part of the T-Systems team. In his position as head of IoT Marketing Communication he is very familiar with all topics related to the Internet of Things. His articles for the blog are focussed on new developments and trends concerning connected devices and data analytics.