The Long Road to 5G IoT Reality

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to be one of the main aspects of the phase 2 release of 5G, which is due to be completed in December 2019 and finalized in March 2020. Modules that work on the new networks won’t be available for a couple of years after 2020.

This phase of IoT is also set to become the basis of the International Telecommunications Union’s IMT-2020 standard for 5G and “massive IoT,” which allows the coverage of a million devices per square kilometer (0.38 square miles). This is compared to the 60,680 devices that LPWA [low-power wide-area] LTE standards like narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) can support.

5G massive IoT isn’t going to happen instantly as it will take until at least 2022 before compatible chips are ready for commercial deployments. “If you take 2020, it’s going to be two plus years for it to start to arrive,” says Steve Bell, senior analyst at Heavy Reading.

Even after the technology specification is finalized, the industrial testing of the modules used in IoT could take a couple of years to complete.

Similar issues recently occurred with the transition from 2G to 4G. The “first LTE-M and NB-IoT modules… were launched in early 2017,” writes IHS Markit senior analyst Christian Kim. “But even though more than 50 mobile operators had announced network deployments of LTE-M, and NB-IoT, or both, market adoption of the two technologies has been slow.”


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