5G device density
and the industries
it will impact

Author: Poornima Apte

The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionary because it gives enterprises the most valuable currency: data. To truly realize its full potential at scale, however, you need 5G device density.

IoT and 5G device density

The promise of IoT lies in its ability to make "things" talk. Remote devices can relay the information they're programmed to, and other systems act on that information to optimize processes without the need for human intervention. The key to making the most of IoT is implementing it at scale and having a large number of sensor-embedded things communicating with on another to deliver optimized processes. Every "thing" that matters will be a node in this communication network, relaying information.

IoT's revolutionary potential is not going unnoticed. Globally, the number of IoT devices will grow to 24.1 billion by 2030, according to Transforma Insights. A reliable and secure way of communication will be needed to complement this explosive growth, and that's where 5G device density factors into the equation.

Device density simply means the ability to accommodate more devices in a given area, and 5G will eventually enable this. The ability to enable communication among a greater number of devices within a given area is what will make 5G an essential technology when it comes to implementing IoT at scale. 5G device density is especially relevant when contrasted against its 4G equivalent: 5G will eventually be able to handle as much as 100 times more connected devices per square kilometer, up to one million devices.

While 5G is much lauded for its speed and low latency, and these are important advantages in many applications, IoT devices might not always need these capabilities. A significant number of IoT solutions will operate through massive machine type communication (mMTC) in the field. This method describes a large number of devices relaying smaller bits of information, sporadically. Massive machine type communication in 5G facilitates this kind of communication between low-energy devices distributed at scale.

What industries will benefit from massive machine type communication in 5G?

Industry sectors that can take advantage of the scale of massive machine type communication in 5G include manufacturing, farming and utilities companies (for resource metering and management); they are expected to be early beneficiaries of 5G device density.

IoT devices attached to machines on the production floor across multiple locations can be expected to relay information through the 5G network, taking advantage of the power of mobile edge computing. Through such implementation of IoT, machines could run in near-autonomous mode unless edge-based artificial intelligence algorithms flag problems. In such cases, 5G should enable predictive maintenance over the preventive or run-to-fail mechanisms that have traditionally been the cornerstones of the industry.

Any industry that requires remote and continuous monitoring of assets—from windmills to gas and water pipes—can benefit from the mMTC model of IoT-enabled technology.

Latency and 5G device density factors also could play a role in making autonomous driving and the smart city a reality. Smart cities need communication at scale among vehicles, traffic lights, parking meters and more. 5G could eventually accommodate the bristling device density that these technologies ride on and enable growth in these sectors, too.

Expect the rapid rise in IoT deployments and associated massive sensorization to increase demand for more reliable communication mechanisms. The increased density of devices calls for a 5G-enabled network that can accommodate the higher load and help realize the true potential of IoT.

Learn more about how 5G can enable IoT solutions at scale.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.