Visionary businesses in Australia are starting to plan for real-time action (and reactions) – from products or service delivery to responding to market disruptions.
At Verizon, we are having conversations at all levels of enterprise and government about how organisations can deploy private 5G alongside their current 4G options, to build networks that can respond at levels previously unheard of.
Businesses are realising that scalable, reliable networking is a key foundation to innovate, grow and prosper.
Public 5G networks are starting to roll out in Australia, but access to 5G spectrum is a practical inhibitor for most organisations looking to deploy their own 5G networks. While other countries are more advanced in their public 5G journeys, we are seeing fewer opportunities in that space locally.
However, the option to build private 4G networks with the view to switching to 5G once spectrum becomes available, will become an attractive option as CIOs build infrastructure to accommodate a 5G-enabled future.
Trusted networks to enable cyber resilience
The main use cases for private 4G/5G networks are to embed enterprise-grade cyber resilience into business systems within established buildings or premises that were not built with connectivity in mind.
A good example is campus-based enterprises and governments that are grappling with remote workers under lock-down conditions and facing morale issues for employees.
Verizon is helping a number of organisations address the challenge of connectivity within concrete structures and buildings, or at remote locations where high-speed networks are not available. We are working alongside partners to deliver enterprise-grade secured high-speed networks to alleviate these issues.
Delivering on more than speed
Private enterprise networks can work alongside fibre networks (such as NBN options), but when you consider the eight currencies of 5G, it’s not just about delivering fast speed or downloads, but how your organisation can move into a fully digital operation.
Private 5G networks can bring that focus to the enterprise to realise benefits that aren’t easily delivered via public 5G options.
This includes computing “at the edge of the network” by reducing latency over network infrastructure.
On its own, edge computing enables faster, localised processing. Combine it with 5G and you have the architecture for a next-gen wireless network that can empower operations essentially in real time.
5G + edge = real-time mobile edge
Mobile edge computing (MEC) is the widely accepted standard of edge computing that places compute and storage resources at the edge of the network, close to end-users. A complementary technology for 5G, it provides both an IT service environment and cloud computing capabilities at the edge of the mobile network.
5G will pave the way to optimise for services that are latency sensitive, and should provide massive bandwidth, data transfer rates many times faster than the blink of an eye, and greater connectivity and reliability than 4G LTE.
Solving real-world challenges
Everything from manufacturing equipment and smart cities applications to connected vehicles and wearables will be clamouring for 5G’s ability to deliver on a fully realised digital outcome.
Verizon is working with a large organisation in Australia to upgrade connectivity for trainees that live and work at campus locations across the nation.
Each year, the organisation provides training for thousands of new employees, but when COVID hit, they were unable to access the internet for work or personal use apart from on their mobile devices on data plans.
Being unable to connect with family and friends had a detrimental impact on wellbeing, and the organisation found employee retention plummeted.
While using mobile data options to connect with others provided a short-term solution, over the long term the organisation was concerned about high costs and security issues. Running fibre through the organisation also presented a major capital works program.
The organisation is planning to deploy Verizon’s private 5G network to deliver training programs for employees and an enterprise communications platform to deliver instructions on maintenance and support of high-tech equipment – all via remote means.
Enabling smart cities
5G networks coupled with MEC power will also benefit smart city initiatives, where existing infrastructure needs to be considered when implementing upgraded connectivity options. For these initiatives, 5G and MEC-powered solutions enable communities to capture, analyse and distribute video content in real time. Smart cities are also using these technologies to provide hyper-accurate area mapping to aid with delivery services and emergency response.
Other disaster responses can use remote control miniature robots to aid citizen engagement via public Wi-Fi access. In other countries, we have helped services teams use aggregate data from deployed personnel, body-attached or unattended sensors, and autonomous agents to assist in search and rescue or disaster response.
Bringing processing to the edge is an interesting conversation that we are having on many levels. For example, by moving performance and compute to the edge, an emergency responder organisation will achieve faster response times and put more power into the hands of its emergency personnel on the ground.
In mining applications or at natural disaster sites, as another example, we can turn hostile environments into real-world images to protect, inform and enhance decisions.
Helping nomadic communities
Verizon worked with a Port Authority in the UK to solve an issue of delivering connectivity to sailors that are locked on their ship in port. Not only is localised, secure connectivity a morale booster, it also enables technology coverage when in port. This enables flow-on efficiencies and enhanced productivity such as virtual training, maintenance and other duties while on a trusted network connection.
There are opportunities for industrial applications of computing at the edge of the network, powered by 5G. 5G is expected to be capable of supporting up to 1 million devices in a square kilometre and to spur a radical increase in the number of connected devices and systems, leading to the Massive IoT (MIoT).
By 2025, some 38.6 billion devices are forecast to be connected worldwide, and by 2030 it’s projected that there will be 50 billion, according to Statistica’s “Internet of Things (IoT) in the U.S.”
MIoT deployments could generate and harness large volumes of data to drive advanced analytical and artificial intelligence (AI) programs and provide mission-critical services that require Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) services.
For applications such as precision manufacturing, MEC and 5G can enable fully connected and automated factories to detect issues in near real time, potentially reducing error rates, increasing productivity, and paving the way for real-time manufacturing.
And finally, 5G and MEC could amplify three key technologies that will transform logistics—IoT performance tracking, robotics, and distribution automation—to enable just-in-time production and improve tracking, delivery and package movement.
Society is arriving at a new frontier, one where technology empowers humans to reimagine how they experience the world around them. As 5G continues to be deployed, its potential becomes ever clearer—and as the innovators profiled in Speed of Thought demonstrate, more essential.
Derek Fittler is the Managing Client Partner at Verizon Business Group in Australia. Verizon has produced a documentary on how 5G can help a range of industries – watch Speed of Thought on how creative visionaries are exploring 5G to help solve seemingly insurmountable problems.
Verizon Business Group in Australia is a member of the InnovationAus Editorial Leadership Council and this story was produced as part of this partnership.