As more devices become inter-connectable/intelligent, businesses holding back on 5G/IoT adoption are missing out… but 6G may be worth the wait.

As one of the leading regions for 5G adoption, the Asia Pacific region sees tech firms continuing to roll out transformative benefits to organizations.

One of the biggest impacts of 5G developments is the advancement of “Human-to-Everything” connectivity. As more and more devices become connected to the internet and to other devices, people will be able to interact in new and more powerful ways. Anything can be connected: factory floors, vehicles, remote sensors, and more. 

A growth in standalone (or private) 5G networks will drive this, enabling new and immersive experiences. Imagine using augmented reality on a vehicle manufacturing line to help assess faults in real-time. By bringing improved efficiency across the value chain, 5G connectivity will act as a catalyst for further growth.

Data from Statista indicates the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things may reach 30.9bn by 2025. Whether it is from a mobile device or a controlled private location, IoT has allowed organizations to interact on a larger scale. Connecting ordinary objects such as security systems and smartphones enables businesses to compete in the future, with data to power up decision-making. 

Mysore Madhusudhan, Executive Vice President – Collaboration & Connected Solutions, Tata Communications

Win-win for retailers and customers

To illustrate how organizations can benefit from incorporating 5G and IoT into their business and operations strategies, here are some examples:

    • Retails are using smart connected sensors to monitor warehouse stock levels alongside GPS-enabled shopping carts. The up-to-date stock information ensures that consumers know if what they want to purchase is available (to provide a good retail experience); and this is a win for retailers that can anticipate demands more precisely and manage stock levels accordingly.
    • Beacons in retail settings can be linked to IoT sensors to transmit app messages directly to consumers’ smartphones to offer situational information on promotions and discounts. The messages can also divert shoppers’ attention toward particular parts of the store, based on purchase histories on file (if any) for better personalization.
    • Light Detection and Ranging (LiDaR) strips and blurred-vision cameras can be deployed detect the length of customer queues and send real-time information to store managers. The information can then be used to evaluate wait times and either display that information for customers or guide staff to reduce bottlenecks in the busiest counters.

Preparing for a future beyond 5G

Looking ahead, the race to 6G is already intensifying in the region. Singapore has announced its plans to launch Southeast Asia’s first 6G lab while South Korea aims to launch 6G by 2028.

Eventually, 6G (or whatever the successor of 5G tech will be named as) is expected to allow even faster speeds and capacity by several levels of magnitude. For instance, 6G internet will aim to support one microsecond latency communications: 1,000 times faster than what is possible with 5G now. 

Some other potential applications of 6G internet include an integrated space-air-ground-sea network for truly global network coverage, and more efficient wireless access points that can handle more users simultaneously.

Also, mobile edge computing will be built directly into all 6G networks, pushing the limits of AI beyond what is possible today.