Home5GIs 5G a panacea for all things IoT?

Is 5G a panacea for all things IoT?

Private, licensed networks needed to support mission critical IoT security, Full Spectrum CEO says

While initial 5G deployments are focused on enhanced mobile broadband, the two other primary 5G use cases speak to enablement of massive internet of things (IoT) deployments and ultra reliable low latency communications (URLCC) for mission critical systems. As it relates to IoT, 5G is billed as all-encompassing in its ability to support IoT use cases from smart metering that require narrow channel, low bandwidth transmission conforming to the NB-IoT standard, up to real-time, high-definition video streaming that needs lots of capacity and very low latency.
But some customers in the mission critical segment may not want to depend on an operator for fixed and/or mobile communications, according to Full Spectrum CEO Stewart Kantor. Industrial customers like electric utilities, oil and gas interests and port operators have very specific service level and security requirements that aren’t a good fit with consumer networks, he said in a recent interview.
Kantor explained Full Spectrum initially focused on the electric grid market but is opening up to a broader range of industrial IoT connectivity. “The core idea,” he said, “is there are needs of industrial users that are very different from your core cellular customer. The idea and core focus has been that the industrial customer really requires connectivity at the edge of their network and most of the consumer technologies focus on delivering high-speed communications to consumer markets in very specific areas versus industrial users, which have a different geography.”
Kantor gave the example of how electric utilities are using IoT for automation: “Almost all that technology today is run over private networks. There are a whole host of other applications in addition to the metering data that occur along the grid and lead to automation of the grid to increase efficiencies. Those applications include managing their sub-stations, then from the sub-stations there are devices–voltage regulators and voltage sensors, capacitor banks, all these things you see that are attached to distribution lines. Those items are now going through a period of automation where the utility can control them remotely. The issue is the utilities do not want to put these applications on a public network because it leads to issues.”
Full Spectrum has developed a range of products including equipment compatible with the IEEE 802.16s standard, which was published in October 2017. Developed by the Electric Power Research Institution and the Utility Technology Council among other stakeholders, 802.16s supports channel sizes between 100 kHz and 2 MHz and can be deployed in a range of licensed bands including the Upper 700 MHz A band, the AMTS bands, IVDS bands, the 900 MHz NPCS bands and legacy paging frequencies.
Let’s take a look at the port example. Full Spectrum has worked with ports in the Caribbean and Mediterranean to provide ship-to-shore transmissions and other security-related services over licensed frequencies and in a manner that addresses salt water-related propagation issues. Port operators “want to know more information even farther out,” Kantor said. Buoys can track incoming ships and drive situational awareness and sea drones can provide advanced monitoring capabilities to drive security. These implementations get beyond the 802.16s spec, and use a VHF channel with a larger channel width.
Kantor, highlighting the security aspects of private networks, said, “The LTE and 5G frequencies are well known. There are real complexities to just using these networks for safe communication for these types of applications. It’s a scary thought with the ability to jam almost all the frequencies that we’re going to rely on for safety.” He called out the hype cycle that bills 5G as doing everything. “It will be a transformative technology but there are needs for these differentiated networks.”
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