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With its potential to accelerate and augment the industrial internet of things (IIoT), 5G technology is poised for major growth in industrial sector, with 5G IIoT connections forecasted to rise to nearly 140,000 units in 2023, up from only about 1,000 in 2021, according to an optimistic scenario forecast from Omdia.  

 

5G can be an Industrial IoT accelerator  - Copy.jpg
Source: Omdia

Networking allows data to be collected and analyzed to enable improved operational efficiency, reduced downtime and superior production quality.  

Last year more than 3.5 billion industrial automation devices were shipped, yet only 2 percent of these were IIoT-enabled. There remains a huge untapped market to address via cellular technology, including 5G. The expected industrial uses for 5G include augmented reality (AR) for information-rich, hands-free operations, control of automated mobile robots (AMRs), asset tracking and fleet management. 

The source of funding the deployment and operation of the private networks required for IIoT will be a key question at MWC20. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) will showcase private 5G networks optimized for industrial applications such as automated robotics, delivery vehicles, production inspection and information display.  

However, there is a significant gap between the realities of the industrial world and CSPs’ aspirations. The absence of industrial players like Honeywell, Bosch and Schneider Electric on the conference floor at MWC20 demonstrates the obstacle CSPs face when trying to align with the industrial world. 

Industrial is a new and unexplored market for CSPs, and only 5 percent of manufacturing and industrial enterprises that are using IoT now view CSPs as preferred providers of IoT solutions. There are strong incumbent technology providers and have a widespread preference for wired technologies such as fieldbus or industrial Ethernet.  

CSPs need to face these challenges to succeed in the IIoT world, and to identify those areas where they can play effectively, even if these may initially only be niche opportunities.