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How can we use 5G?

Core capabilities of 5G

5G is the 5th generation of global wireless technology used for mobile and internet services, building on the progress of 4G, 3G, 2G and 1G. However 5G has important capabilities that can be used in different ways to other generations of wireless communications technology.

Enhanced mobile broadband

5G enhanced mobile broadband delivers high data rates and high traffic volumes, such as high definition video streaming, fully immersive augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences. This capability can also be used to analyse video using artificial intelligence and machine learning, which generate insights to inform decision-making – for example by helping manage traffic flows by adjusting traffic lights.

Massive machine-to-machine communications

Massive machine-to-machine communications enable the connection of a massive number of low cost devices with low energy consumption. This allows many Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to be connected, for example, in agriculture, data from on-farm sensors can be analysed in the cloud and returned to help farmers make decisions in real time.

Ultra-reliable low latency communications

Ultra reliable, low latency communications (URLLC) enables smart automation of industrial equipment where mission critical communications is required. A simple definition of latency is the time it takes for a request to travel from the sender to the receiver, and then the response to return to the sender. URLLC can use mobile edge computing to achieve ultra-low latency. URLLC can also be combined with artificial intelligence to improve the productivity of manufacturing processes, supporting the automation of manufacturing processes.

5G examples

The core capabilities of 5G are already tested around the world and across different industries, resulting in new practices that are safer, more efficient, and achieve better outcomes.

In these examples, 5G is in trial, pre-commercial or fully commercial projects. They are provided to demonstrate a sample of 5G use cases, rather than an endorsement of the individual projects.

Monitoring animal health

As part of 5G Rural First in the United Kingdom (UK), 5G is being trialled as a way to monitor animal health at the Agri-EPI Centre South West Dairy Development Centre. Cows wear 5G-connected collars that help the farmer to track a cow’s eating and sleeping patterns, rumination, fertility, and day-to-day health.

Cows also wear pedometers to track their movement patterns to make sure they are getting enough time to rest. Farmers can see the information instantly, and pass it on to veterinarians or nutritionists. This gives the farmer assurance that the cows are healthy and behaving normally, as well as early warning if they are getting sick, are pregnant, or need to be checked. You can find out more at the 5G Rural First website.

Predictive maintenance in manufacturing

Worcester Bosch (UK) is part of the Worcestershire 5G Testbed, trialling 5G technology early identification of potential failures of its machinery. The aim of the trial is to improve the efficiency of the plant, reducing the amount of time machinery spends in repair.

As part of this trial, approximately 100 Internet of Things (IoT) sensors were installed to monitor machinery, as well as two high-resolution cameras. Using 5G means more IoT devices can be connected; i.e. thousands of sensors compared to just over 100 on 4G based on the same area, as well as providing much faster data transmission. For more information see case studies from the UK 5G Innovation Network and Ericsson.

Smart mining trucks and excavators

SANY Heavy Industry Co is China’s largest and the world’s 5th largest construction machinery manufacturer. SANY has combined 5G and smart mining truck technologies to improve the environment sensing capabilities of SANY’s autonomous mining trucks. Using autonomous driving in a 5G-covered mining area can help improve safety, and improve operational efficiency.

SANY has also successfully tested a 5G remote excavator at the Kunshan campus of SANY Heavy Industry. In the test, an unmanned excavator was controlled in real time from a remote control console, with feedback about the operational environment and panoramic video feeds being provided in real time. You can find more information in the GSMA report 5G Use Cases for Verticals China 2020.

Precision grazing

Another project that was part of 5G Rural First in the UK used a 5G enabled drone to analyse grass across 42 acres for grazing fields in Somerset, UK. This helped develop a detailed understanding of the quality and quantity of grass available in a grazing areas. This information allows better grassland management for livestock production. Find out more at 5G Rural First.

Access to care

The Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care testbed, part of the UK’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, trialled a range of uses of 5G for health and social care. One trial used sensors to monitor conditions that could negatively affect health and wellbeing in homes, or residential aged care. The sensors were used detect information about including temperature, humidity, audio alarms, power outages, door and window opening, and alarm buttons. The data was transmitted via a Low Powered Radio Network and gateway connected using 5G to a cloud-based system.

Data from the sensors was available on an app, which could provide a telecare alert to friends, family or professional carers. Having early notification of changes in the home environment allowed care providers to take quick action, and prevent health problems from escalating. The sensor trial found a 41 per cent reduction the number of people admitted to hospital, and a 13 per cent reduction in the number of GP visits. You can find out more about this trial, and other health and social care trials in the Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Testbed.

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