Five business benefits of upgrading to LTE or 5G IoT
The shutdown of 2G and 3G networks is well under way, and for businesses using IoT that means it’s time to migrate to newer network technologies like NB-IoT, LTE-M, 4G and 5G. While the switch does require planning and resources, it also comes with major advantages
According to Transforma Insights 2022 Enterprise IoT Connectivity Survey 95% of enterprises who have gone through a migration from 2G/3G to newer network technologies found that it brought significant benefits. With that in mind, here are just five of the potential benefits your business can gain from the switch.
1. Improved data throughput for wider use cases
Exciting IoT use cases are constantly being developed, but that also means a greater demand for data efficiency. The good news is that 4G and 5G network technology offers significantly higher data rates than their 2G and 3G predecessors, meaning they benefit applications requiring larger amounts of data to be transmitted – everything from video to connected vehicle technology or industrial automation tasks.
The newer technologies not only handle larger amounts of data, but also do so at a much lower latency. As a result, they also benefit applications that require low latency responsiveness, for example remote monitoring or remote control, or even important industrial control systems which must act with the smallest possible delay. With 5G in particular comes edge computing capabilities, a powerful way of reducing latency even further by bringing compute and data processing power closer to IoT devices.
The result is the possibility to create a level of IoT connectivity that was previously unthinkable at a large scale, as well as more powerful products for the end user.
Almost every object in a city can now be connected with sensors to become smart: smart streetlights, trash cans, parking places, water piping and much more. The opportunities for innovative products are significant, with resources that are better optimized and used in a more sustainable way. With these network technologies a wider range of industries can increase their digitalization, create new IoT use cases and ultimately, new sources of revenue.
2. Improved efficiency for resource and cost savings
Unlike older network technologies, LTE-M and NB-IoT are specifically tailored to meet IoT requirements through their efficient data transfer mechanisms. Two of the major benefits of this optimization include longer battery life from IoT devices, and more efficient use of network resources by freeing up bandwidth and spectrum.
This ultimately means a larger number of IoT devices can connect to the network simultaneously without compromising their performance. And the improved energy efficiency can also potentially translate to lowered cost.
But the efficiency gains are not only about the energy and spectrum used by the devices themselves: resources can also be used more effectively, thanks to the possibilities for greater connectivity.
For example, by connecting trash cans with smart sensors, it becomes possible to automatically register when they are full and need emptied, saving time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips for staff. Connected streetlights can switch off at the times of the day when data shows there is nobody present, saving resources. Or connected buildings can measure how much electricity is being used at a more granular level, pinpointing the times of the day and year that require more or less power, so energy companies can optimize production.
3. Improved coverage enables new IoT locations
Newer network technologies like LTE-M and NB-IoT have a much wider range of coverage, which means your IoT devices can be located much further from the base station and still maintain a connection.
They can also transmit data from IoT devices in previously unachievable locations, such as deeper within buildings or even underground, significantly expanding the type of locations that IoT devices can be deployed in.
Examples of what can be unlocked by this can already be seen in everything from agricultural remote monitoring to automated industrial vehicles deployed deep in mines. The most modern network technology, 5G, can even be used as an alternative to fiber connections in places where wired infrastructure does not exist and wouldn’t be cost effective to deploy. This significantly expands the possibilities for use cases in new areas, as well as reaching new customers.
4. Future-proofing for technological and regulatory changes
Upgrading to newer network technologies also ensures more predictability for your business, as many countries now have roadmaps or even regulation demanding shutdown of the older networks. For example in many European countries 2G and 3G will be phased out relatively soon.
The newer generations of network technology on the other hand will be in use significantly longer. LTE has had a lifespan of around 13 years to date and is predicted to be around for the next 20 years. Greater compatibility with future generations of tech and heightened security compared to 2G or 3G also means LTE is a future-proofed choice for taking advantage of previously impossible services powered by IoT deployments. Both LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies are part of the 5G standard, so they will continue to be supported as long as 5G is available. 5G itself will be around for the foreseeable future, at least well into the 2040s.
5. New functionalities enable greater control
While physical SIM cards were previously essential for deploying IoT devices in the field, newer technologies can harness the remote SIM provisioning (RSP) capability of embedded SIMS (eSIM), opening up new possibilities.
With this new functionality, a device can be remotely moved to a different network should its default network be switched off, without the need to physically swap out a SIM, as was previously the case, removing a potential logistics concern for businesses and saving time.
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