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MediaService Digital Industries Newsroom

5G – the wireless network of the future –  New 5G mobile wireless network standard unlocks potential for industrial companies

Over the last 40 years, every decade has brought a new mobile network generation – 5G is now ready to launch.

Everyone is talking about 5G and industry is, above all, anticipating many benefits and future-oriented potential from the new mobile network standard. However, this development has not simply “dropped in industry’s lap”. In fact, the 2G to 4G mobile phone generations have already had a significant impact on industrial progress. For example, 2G enabled RTUs to send text messages and 3G provided remote access, e. g. for remote maintenance. 4G finally allowed high-performance remote mobile access to plants. 5G will provide substantial increases in bandwidths and network reliability and delays will drop to almost zero. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) which, amongst other things, is responsible for global standardization of mobile networks, created a vision for 5G which has three key scenarios. The first, enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), covers improvements in bandwidth compared to 4G. The main objective is the realization of data-driven applications which require high data rates with global, large-scale network coverage. A typical example is the growing need for HD high-quality streaming of music and videos on mobile devices such as smartphones. It is also possible to envisage augmented-reality applications for industry which would support field engineers.

In Germany, the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency - BNetzA) has decided to reserve 100 MHz from 3,7 GHz to 3,8 GHz for local industrial use as part of the introduction of 5G.

The second scenario, Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC), offers high reliability and low latency for demanding industrial applications. Typically, this includes mobile robots, autonomous logistics, driverless transport systems (DTS), or even safety applications.

The 2G mobile network standard enabled RTUs to send  text messages, and 3G enabled mobile remote access for teleservice. 4G finally allowed high-performance mobile Internet access.

The third scenario, massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC), focuses on connecting a large number of devices in a small space. In practice, this frequently means applications for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) where a unit area typically has a high device density. The devices continuously send or receive the data but over longer intervals so that only an extremely low bandwidth is utilized. Another example could be the process industry where many sensors are installed (e.g. for temperature, pressure, flow) to support process monitoring in a plant. 

The new 5G mobile network standard primarily promises greater bandwidths, lower latencies, and improved reliability.

Step-by-step to the new standard
Despite all the euphoria, it is worth remembering that not all 5G functionalities will be available immediately. In fact, a sequence of releases already exists with, for example, Release 15, with the focus on eMBB, being adopted in 2019. Releases 16 and 17 will support the two remaining scenarios and have more relevance for industrial applications.


Ursula Lang

Siemens AG

Gleiwitzer Str. 555
90475 Nuremberg

+49 (911) 895-7947