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Increasing Supply Chain Resiliency through 5G Cellular Network Technology

A couple of years ago, at an event on innovation and technology, CNET editorial director, Jason Hilner, pointed out that the real innovations that 5G will enable haven’t even been dreamed up yet.

"The leap from 3G to 4G enabled apps that we hadn't considered yet-- the likes of Uber and Airbnb, for example," he said at the event. "Those hadn't even beencontemplated before, because we lacked the capabilities that make thempossible. We should expect with 5G that it's going to enable a whole new rangein capabilities that we've only just begun to imagine."

We’re starting to see those capabilities emerge; the unique speed andlow-latency capabilities of 5G is enabling a host of innovations through AI andInternet of Things (IoT), and these are going to transform how we approachtechnology in every way.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence – AI - conjures images of science fiction filmsand human-like robots, but the reality is that it is already part of our world.The basic idea of AI is that it is technology that is capable of makingdecisions autonomously – without human input – and it does that by collectingup masses of data, learning from it – a process known as “machine learning” –and then using the “knowledge” that it has acquired to make decisions whenfaced with new data sets.

What does this mean for IoT?

IoT, meanwhile, is definitionally simple, but complex in action; IoTsimply means devices that are connected to the Internet wirelessly, but itgenerally refers to a lot of devices being connected simultaneously.Where once a network of connected devices would be PCs and perhaps mobiledevices, now environments are filled with connected sensors, equipment,machines, security systems and even lightbulbs. By 2025, there will be 30.9 billion connected devices, showing just howpervasive this technology will be.

IoT and AI share a symbiotic relationship. IoT is a key source ofreal-time data, collected with the equipment in operation. That data can beused by AI devices to train them to handle more complex tasks through machinelearning. AI, meanwhile, can be subsequently used to control IoT-powereddevices.

For a simple example of how this might work in operation, considerself-driving cars. Self-driving cars need to be powered by AI (so it can driveon the road and get the passengers to their location safely), and that AI needsto be “trained” using an incredible amount of data – ideally, billions ofhour’s worth of real-world driving data. Once trained, though, the caritself will operate as an IoT device – it will be connected to the Internet,and the AI would be delivered to the car over that Internet network.

Why is 5G important in all this?

One of the things that has held back complex applications of AI and IoThas been the limits of our current cellular network (4G) , but 5G changes allthat – leading to that innovation that Jason Hilner was referring to in theevent a few years ago. 5G has three particular qualities that are essential toboth IoT and AI.

-        Mobility – 5G networks, once fully rolled out,will be available everywhere there’s a mobile signal. This means that locationstops being an issue – where fixed wireless networks have a limited range, 5Gcan allow all applications to operate from anywhere, and therefore be mobile.

-        Speed – 5G can deliver speeds of as high as 10Gbps, and can be as much as 100 timesfaster than the speeds available on 4G. 4G wasn’t sufficient to handle thesheer amount of data that an environment that is filled with connected devices,all transmitting and receiving data, but 5G can offer the necessary speeds.

-        Near-zero latency – 4G networks featured latency ofaround 30ms to 70ms. 5G latency is between 5ms and 20ms. To most of us, that difference isn’tnoticeable, but when it comes to streaming technology, it makes all thedifference. Taking our autonomous car example above; any latency means theslightest delay between an AI device making a decision and the IoT deviceacting on it. If the car isn’t responding to the AI in near real-time, thenthere’s every chance that it will react too slowly, causing accidents andrisking lives. 5G’s low latency enables the kind of real-time operation that isnecessary for advanced IoT and AI applications.

Together, IoT and AI unlock a new level of innovation that will deliver value across all sectors. Whether it’s simple, productivity-boosting applications that are achieved by handing mundane, repetitive tasks over to AI, or it’s technologythat handles dangerous or challenging tasks in extreme conditions, these technologies are the future of IT. Underpinning their success will be the 5Gnetwork, as the first connectivity solution that gives organisations thecombination of speed, low latency and mobility that can properly unlock theinnovative potential of these technologies. Of course, once your organisationhas deployed AI and IoT technologies on a 5G network, you need for that networkto be reliable and robust so that your critical applications aren’t affected. Contact Spintel today to learn more about delivering an AI and IoT-readynetwork environment.

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