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The convergence of 5G and the IoT

Organizational culture has been undergoing significant changes due to technological development for some time. We are now, more than ever, facing new challenges in our daily lives. With the immediate switch to working from home brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to adapt to the use of new technologies and the demands of a faster and more efficient Internet, in order to streamline and automate everything possible.

The correct use of concepts and terminology concerning the implementation of 5G technology, replacing 4G, or the existence of 6G, or even the use of the Internet of Things (IoT), has gained greater importance. Terms that were previously intended for specialists have now made the pages of newspapers. As defined by Oracle, the IoT describes a network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with devices and systems via the Internet.

The IoT changes the way people interact with devices. With such technologies, objects that had not previously included data analysis can now share important information. This includes smart toothbrushes, automated cars and other technologies in our daily lives, like smartphones. However, we still face connectivity challenges for the broad development of the IoT, and this is where the importance of 5G and the joint analysis of these technologies is revealed. With the arrival of 5G technology, devices are expected to communicate and connect more efficiently and securely at any time.

Fifth-generation technology will reduce connection response—latency—and this will be decisive for devices with embedded Internet capabilities to be able to exchange information faster, in addition to creating more stable and secure connections. The offered bandwidth capacity will also be greater, in order to meet the need arising from the growing consumption of digital content, including real-time updates, which may present instabilities due to connectivity problems.

Some other changes brought about by the union of 5G and the IoT relate to advanced modulation schemes for wireless access, automated lifecycle management of network applications, software-defined networking, support for distributed network applications optimized for the cloud, and network-splitting functions. In accordance with information disseminated through a survey carried out by telecommunications company Ciena in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, 84 percent of respondents believe that 5G may improve their quality of life and help the population’s digital accessibility. Another 56 percent view this technology as having a positive economic impact.

The figures released by this survey compliment the projections disseminated by Gartner in its “IoT forecast,” which recently announced that the 5G endpoint-installed base will grow 14 times between 2020 and 2023, from 3.5 million to 48.6 million units. In 2028, the installed base will reach 324.1 million units, representing a significant increase. Investment in both technologies will facilitate the development of smart cities and drive the digital transformation to levels unimaginable by most of society. This corresponds to the expectations of 81 percent of the consumer public, who view it as a “very attractive” development, according to Ciena’s data.

Despite seeming far from reality, such solutions are already being considered and worked on, especially when it comes to supply chain issues. The e-commerce sector is becoming increasingly relevant with the digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic, and it is constantly developing and remodeling itself in view of the new possibilities and challenges posed by modern society. In addition to the possibility of carrying out deliveries via drones, for example, the pandemic has revealed the problems of supplying basic items, such as toilet paper, sofas and ergonomic chairs, in addition to highlighting the need to be careful with packaging that is safer and has clear details and easily accessible information regarding product validity.

With the advent of the IoT, we already see smart packaging on the market. Despite seeming like something from The Jetsons, such solutions seek to communicate details about contents to consumers in the best way possible, thus ensuring a better experience. They also monitor products and ensure their service life is longer, detailing information about quality, condition and other details that might be needed. However, this level of technology will depend on improving Internet connectivity and accessibility for society as a whole, which is one of the consumer needs pointed out by 80 percent of those interviewed by Ciena. This reinforces the intrinsic relationship between 5G and the IoT as a trend, as a necessity and as the imminent future.

The integration of these technologies is one of the factors that can propel us as a society toward more effective development, beyond speeches about the existence of a new technological revolution. Understanding the resources we have and the solutions available is crucial to our development. We need to carefully analyze each new technology so we can understand its potential and its risks, and so that we can contribute to this transformation. We can thereby avoid shallow talk or common-sense arguments about the need to innovate, and instead assess, think and create, while participating and associating knowledge and technologies to construct this development. RFID Journal

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