Alarm monitoring is one of the most dynamic market segments in the electronic security industry, with layers of change swirling around it. From hardware and software, to infrastructure and communications, to traditional and a new wave of providers –there’s no aspect of alarm monitoring not subject to change.
Having said this, there is one area that stands out more than any other – that something is comms and most particularly, 5G. Given the Australian Federal Government has just released its 5G vision, there’s value in taking a look at what it might mean. For a start, 5G is a rather woolly standard, a benchmark for better connectivity, faster network speeds, more bandwidth and less latency.
What is 5G? The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has developed draft technical specifications for 5G which include:
* High data rates (1 Gbps for hotspots, 100 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload for wide-area coverage)
* Massive connectivity (1 million connections per square kilometre)
* Ultra-low latency (1 millisecond)
* High reliability (99.999 per cent for mission critical ultra-reliable communications), and
* Mobility at high speeds (up to 500 km/h i.e. high-speed trains).
From the point of view of the Federal Government, the things it hopes 5G will facilitate are instructive for electronic security people thanks to clear synergies. For instance, they include enhanced video services to multiple users, massive scale automation delivered through sensor networks and IoT devices, delivery of critical communications assured by low latency and ultra-reliable networks, and improved productivity assisted by high quality, real time data analytics.Interesting, too, the Federal Government wants to drive 5G forward with the early release of spectrum and the creation of a policy and regulatory environment to support a more efficient rollout.
Other immediate actions planned by the Government include:
* Actively engaging in the international standardisation process
* Streamlining arrangements to allow mobile carriers to deploy infrastructure more quickly
* Reviewing existing telecommunications regulatory arrangements to ensure they are fit-for-purpose.
There’s also a role for industry representative bodies in the process – Government intends to work collaboratively with industry to foster an ongoing dialogue on 5G to identify and remove sectoral barriers to its successful and timely rollout. Through this dialogue, the Government will also look at opportunities to build on other Government activities, such as the national Digital Economy Strategy which will more broadly focus on building the productivity of sectors across the economy.
Unlike early generations of mobile networks, 5G will represent a significant shift in the telecommunications industry’s focus away from voice and more towards mobile broadband and increased industrial applications. These new use cases are expected to create benefits across a range of sectors and these use cases, as identified by the industry, can be divided into the following categories:
* Enhanced mobile broadband
* Massive machine type communications, and
* Critical communications.
Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will deliver improved capacity to a greater number of devices. This will enable higher rates and volumes of data transmission per device and improve coverage to a broader range of locations. eMBB will likely be the focus of early 5G deployments as it can immediately support the growing communications requirements for the digital economy.
5G networks will give consumers a better mobile experience in more locations. Increased network capacity will support more users, even in crowded areas, such as large public events, and at peak times. Faster network speeds will also enable consumers to view rich content in more places, supporting the streaming of live events and high-resolution media.As 5G networks mature, they will support the widespread and dense deployment of sensors and other network-connected devices by significantly reducing their power requirements and providing flexible coverage across different spectrum bands.
This proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) across industries is expected to produce significant productivity benefits and support integration between sectors as part of massive machine type communications (mMTC).
When it comes to critical communications, low latency and ultra-reliable communications networks will support the delivery of critical communications, to support public safety use and playing role in the technology ecosystem supporting autonomous vehicles. In addition to automation, critical communications will also help to support technological advancement in areas including robotics and artificial intelligence –that’s likely to include electronic security applications.
What does this tell us about the medium term? Nothing specific but plenty all the same. Manufacturers and providers who can mesh their product offerings with the roll-out of 5G are going to get themselves well ahead of the curve. A lot of it will have to do with video –let’s face it, most mobile streams aren’t exactly high resolution – so that’s an area with strong potential. But there’s also IoT to take into account. 5G is going to impact there in a number of ways – increasing opportunities as well as galvanising competition.