5G Will Enable the Industrial Revolution


We’ve been talking about 5G for a very long time and now the opportunity is really here, says Kathrin Buvac, President and CSO of Nokia Enterprise. “We’ve said for a number of years that 5G will enable the Industrial Revolution.” Buvac added. “It’s clear that 5G has to be a lot more than mobility services. When I talk with enterprise customers I really do believe that these productivity gains that are spoken about are real. Operational efficiencies, process automation, all the way to dark factory operations to full autonomy, that is really what’s coming.”

Kathrin Buvac, President of Nokia Enterprise and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), discusses how 5G will enable the Industrial Revolution at the Bloomberg CEO Forum at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona:

5G Will Enable the Industrial Revolution

We’ve been talking about 5G for a very long time and now the opportunity is really here. We’ve said for a number of years that 5G will enable the Industrial Revolution. It’s clear that 5G has to be a lot more than mobility services. When I talk with enterprise customers I really do believe that these productivity gains that are spoken about are real. Operational efficiencies, process automation, all the way to dark factory operations to full autonomy, that is really what’s coming.

Before we go to the deep depths of 5g technology I think they’re really two things. One is the convergence of IT and OT technologies. Enterprises need to bring their enterprise IT services and the operations technology together. That is not so easily done. The other thing is digital. Think about Amazon and Netflix and what they’ve done transforming physical goods, books into eBooks, and DVDs into streaming. That will not be possible unfortunately with Industry 4.0, meaning we cannot digitize a crane or a truck in a mine. That’s just not possible.

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Industrial Digital Twins Powered Via 5G

What we will do is create digital copies of the big machines or robots. That is what we call the digital twins. What that has to do with 5G technology is that it all starts in connecting these sensors, these machines, these robots, these devices, the co-workers in the factories, in the minds, and in the energy networks. That is where ultimately we will need 5G technology because of the big promise of lower latencies or higher bandwidth capacity, etc.

I think there are a few geographies that are leading the industrial automation. I would say from our standpoint it’s clearly the US. It is clearly Germany where car manufacturing and many manufacturing opportunities are coming. It’s Japan and it’s a few other geographies across the globe that are really leading the pack right now in terms of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that we have to look into.

The Industrial Opportunity is Striking

One thing that is striking me is the industrial opportunity. Over 15 million industrial sites will be deployed in the next decade. We have today 6.5 to 7 million base stations deployed in LTE worldwide. So it’s more than double the number of industrial sites that we somehow all together need to deploy to enable IoT. How are we going to do that?

There is the issue of spectrum availability. We have to be super creative, whether that is shared license, CBRS, 3.5, large scale carrier subleasing spectrum, and making money through that. It’s so critical and that also determines which country, which geography, which enterprise customer will go first. Industrial devices will just not be as quickly available as the smartphone’s which will be made available this year. There is still a lag.

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5G Is a Complete Redefinition of the Network

5G is a complete redefinition of the network. We have all discussed AI, edge, and cloud. But we have to bridge now for a couple of years for enterprise customers as we take them to 5G. The question is really because enterprise customers want to leverage productivity gains now, not tomorrow, like yesterday. The question is really how do we do that? Can we potentially provide private wireless networks, with the help of our telco customers, to enterprises that can then just be a software upgrade to 5G? We would do this while we deploy industrial sites today based on LTE technology.

Enterprise customers are wired a little bit differently than us consumers. think about uplink video. We’re just so used to down-linking from tablets as consumers. We need a lot of uplink capacity if we use email or if we browse. If for a millisecond the network doesn’t work it bothers us, but it’s not the end of the world. But we need six nines reliability in the network in order to make sure we have the unmanned vehicles in the mines or the robots and the factories running precisely with that accuracy. A lot of work is needed still to get the 5G networks where they need to be, but it’s really exciting times to build that infrastructure.

>> Watch the full Bloomberg CEO Forum discussion.



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