Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Move to 5G promises dramatic impact on grids

Steve Rogerson
January 3, 2018
The move to 5G communications technology could have a dramatic impact on grid networking options, according to Navigant Research.
The report examines the 5G technology standard and its use cases, focusing on smart grid applications and possible business model opportunities.
It says that 5G communications technology is expected to underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the confluence of ubiquitous mobile broadband, pervasive sensing and artificial intelligence promises to drive massive change across industry and society. This coming generation of wireless communications promises to make the IoT, and what the report calls the internet of energy (IoE), a reality, while delivering added benefits for power utilities.
According to the report, 5G’s flexible, multi-spectrum, multi-function architecture will provide a platform able to support critical latency-sensitive applications as well as low power, low cost applications such as ubiquitous sensing throughout the distribution grid.
“5G will deliver a step-change in public wireless networking that has the potential to dramatically enhance the way utilities network their grid assets and systems,” said Richelle Elberg, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Many of the concerns utilities have historically had with public networks should be alleviated, and the opportunity for a truly ubiquitous, future-proof network is one that utilities should not overlook as 5G networks come to fruition.”
In addition to enabling smart fleet management as well as edge computing and cloud technologies for distributed automation and intelligent control, 5G networks may also provide new business models to power utilities, according to the report. Because the technology depends on dense small cell architecture, opportunities for utilities to partner with carriers could arise, making dispersed assets such as poles, wires and rights of way valuable assets.
The report provides an overview of the 5G technology standard and its use cases. It discusses the many smart grid applications these networks will support and proposes certain business model opportunities it may create. The report also provides a discussion of the global carriers and infrastructure vendors that are leading the charge towards 5G.
Utilities and their vendors planning network upgrades over the next five to ten years must fully understand the longer-term implications of the 5G evolution as they consider their need for future-proof and holistic connectivity, says the report.