The best use cases enabled by 5G, IoT for utilities are still to come: Viavi
Despite the increasing adoption of IoT and 5G by firms operating in the utility sector, these technologies will enable more innovative use cases in the future compared to the initial use cases under implementation at the moment, Sameh Yamany, CTO of VIAVI Solutions, told Enterprise IoT Insights.
“I believe that the best use cases are the ones we don’t know yet. Because once you start applying these technologies, you will have a lot of different ways of optimizing and improving some of the utility sectors,” he said.
Yamany said that IoT is a big topic in several vertical sectors but, specifically in the utilities sector, there are already a lot of examples of how IoT technology is currently helping companies within this sector in terms of efficiency and connectivity.
“We had a discussion with a utility company in the United States where they were trying to support a lot of troubleshooting in very remote areas. A lot of these areas are not actually covered by any wireless coverage. So there was work to use IoT to temporarily build [a] meshed wireless network with drones, where troubleshooting technicians can actually be able to quickly go into these remote areas and fix issues,” Yamany recalled. “So IoT has a huge role in the utilities market. They’re all now using IoT devices for metering, for energy efficiency and for optimization.”
Regarding the role that 5G technology is already having or will have in the utilities market, Yamany said that 5G and 4G are key for utility companies that want to deploy a quick mesh network with high bandwidth. “Actually, 5G was designed from the architecture point of view to provide support to verticals and definitely the utility sector is one of the big players in that area for different reasons,” he said.
Yamany also said that utilities are already implementing private 5G networks with unlicensed spectrum. When asked if utilities are already fully aware of the benefits of implementing their own private 5G networks, the executive said that there is no single answer for this, as some regional utilities may find it more useful to have their own network. “Then, they may decide to outsource this private network but the utilities have control over the network and also own the spectrum. We are seeing examples of this in Europe. But I think that on a national or international perspective, that’s where a big service provider or an ecosystem of service providers can build these private networks for these utility functions.”
When asked about the relevance of AI in the utilities sector and how utility companies can take advantage of this technology, Yamany highlighted that artificial intelligence is completely independent of IoT and 5G and that this technology has already been implemented by utilities. “We have a product called geolocation intelligence, where we can detect in real time how power is used in certain locations, and then readjust some of the parameters of your network to efficiently use the power resources, hence benefiting the utilities market,” he said.
Yamany also said that the adoption of IoT, AI and 5G by utility companies is increasing but was lower compared to the industrial or manufacturing sectors. “Industry in general is going to be a big consumer of these new technologies, such as IoT, artificial intelligence and private networks … And then utilities are up there with them.”
RCR Wireless News published an editorial report called “Talking About (Industrial) Revolution: Utilities” in which key industry leaders and analysts talk about how digital systems – including 5G, AI, IoT, and edge, plus other key technologies — are transforming the utilities sector. Click here to access the report.