Ericsson has been building communication solutions for the past 140 years. It took us 100 years to connect buildings on Earth with wired, landline connectivity. The past 40 years, on the other hand, have been about wireless, starting with mobile communications. Forty years ago, 1G was introduced — wireless voice communications. Short text messages came afterwards, with 2G. And with 3G, we finally experienced wireless data communications and the power of the World Wide Web in our pockets. Then, 4G enabled us to enjoy millions of apps on our devices, completely revolutionising how we use the internet on the go and how we interact with our devices.
But 5G brings the era where mobile communications go beyond the individual and the customer, to the enterprise. In other words, 5G means that industries are finally in a place where they can take full advantage of the benefits of wireless communications and digitally transform for the future. Most industries are, unfortunately, still operating on wired communications — they’re stuck in the first 100 years, the age of landlines. But the most important communication criteria that industries must conform to are simplicity, security and stability.
While most factory floors are still connected by cables, a recent study by ABI Research shows that the number of wireless connections in factories is projected to grow by 55 per cent annually in the next 10 years. Industries have been looking into alternatives, such as WiFi, low-power WAN (LPWAN) and Zigbee, but they all function on the unlicensed spectrum range, so they cannot meet the requirements of being simple, secure and stable. That’s why industries are still cabled. In theory, 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) could have been viable for industries too, but when 4G rolled around there was no push from industry to go mobile.
Now there are two big concurrent trends: the electrification trend — where more batteries are being introduced, making the cabled products of yesterday battery-powered and therefore mobile — and the customization trend, meaning industries need to be more flexible to fulfil customers’ expectations, which include mobility.
The time for industries to go mobile is now. Key players, such as ABB, Bosch, Siemens and others, are saying that this is the time for them to start their wireless journey. This means reliable wireless access, not unlicensed access such as LPWAN or Bluetooth (which Ericsson invented back in the day). Wireless 5G is licensed technology, which means that industries can now finally breathe easy and rely on a simple, secure and stable industrial wireless connection.