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5G Network Technology for Sustainable and Efficient Cities

5G Network Technology for Sustainable and Efficient Cities

The News: Just as the Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed industrial operations, including manufacturing and healthcare, municipal governments across the globe are looking to new technologies to create future-ready 5G smart cities. High-performance, end-to-end, and scalable connectivity frameworks are critical for success. According to findings from Aberdeen Strategy and Research, 48% of all organizations consider 5G to be a critical driving factor behind connectivity and modernization initiatives. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has also started the process of repurposing at least 1500 MHz of available spectrum for 5G satellite, mobile, and broadband connections in the US. Read more on the Spiceworks website.

5G Network Technology for Sustainable and Efficient Cities

Analyst Take: Although IoT has transformed industrial operations, including manufacturing and healthcare, municipal governments across the globe are looking to new technologies to create future-ready 5G smart cities. Per the latest research from Aberdeen Strategy and Research, 48% of all organizations consider 5G as a critical driving factor behind connectivity and modernization initiatives. And the NTIA has started the process of repurposing at least 1500 MHz of available spectrum for 5G satellite, mobile, and broadband connections in the country.

One of the primary advantages of 5G technology is its high-speed data transfer capabilities, as the technology supports many devices and sensors concurrently, collecting and analyzing data on numerous aspects of urban operations, including the flow of traffic, air quality, and energy consumption. This information can be leveraged to optimize infrastructure, making cities more efficient and sustainable. For example, 5G-enabled sensors monitor traffic in real time, allowing the optimization of traffic signals to reduce congestion and improve air quality. In addition, smart power grids driven by 5G can help cities manage energy usage efficiently, reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainability initiatives.

Public service entities, including local governments, fire departments, and police departments, are able to leverage 5G smart city technology for better communications and monitor them through smart devices, bolstering traffic, public safety, transit infrastructure, and public buildings.

Challenges in Implementing 5G Smart City Technology

High-speed and low-latency 5G smart city networks will enable municipalities to bring new layers of connectivity and many corresponding benefits. It is important to note that every new connected device adds to the number of entry points in a network that can easily turn into a cybersecurity liability if not managed properly. 5G technology is secure by design and has several enhanced capabilities for security, but security should remain a focus. The adoption of 5G means more devices that are connected, which increases the attack surface multi-fold, and creates greater risks. To help combat this threat, 5G security considerations must be carefully managed, especially in a hybrid environment where 5G and legacy technologies such as 4G and LoRa operate alongside each other. Experts believe 5G technology will mitigate this risk by becoming the unifying technology framework. This risk mitigation is critical for smart cities, where the stakes for critical infrastructure failure could not be any higher.

Smart cities are also challenged if they are working with earlier generations of networks, as different network technologies must work together to power ongoing connections between connected devices in a large-scale 5G implementation that a smart city would require. Another potential problem facing 5G applications for smart cities is the question of monetization. Many 5G smart city solutions will involve multiple stakeholders, including operators, network vendors, platform vendors, chipset/module vendors, device manufacturers, application developers, vertical partners, and systems integrators (SIs), who must work together very closely and form effective partnerships to create and deliver long-term value. It is important to note that mobile technologies are generally considered to be highly cost-intensive (for both CAPEX and OPEX). Although 5G technology might provide the ideal technical framework for smart cities, its adoption and success in the long term will be determined by how the deployment costs are managed and how cost models are defined in a way that it is also commercially viable.

Although 5G smart city services hold some challenges, such is the case for any new technology. It will undoubtedly take time for the technology and services to mature to the point where they are ready for the mass-scale adoption needed for a smart city environment. Scale, maturity, and reliability are three fundamental pillars for a smart city.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Author Information

Clint Wheelock

Clint brings over 20 years of market research and consulting experience, focused on emerging technology markets. He was co-founder and CEO of Dash Network, an integrated research and digital media firm focused on the CX market, which was acquired by The Futurum Group in 2022. He previously founded Tractica with a focus on human interaction with technology, including coverage of AI, user interface technologies, advanced computing, and other emerging sectors. Acquired by Informa Group, Clint served as Chief Research Officer for Informa’s research division, Omdia, with management and content strategy responsibility, formed by the combination of Tractica, Ovum, IHS Markit Technology, and Heavy Reading.
Clint was previously the founder and President of Pike Research, a leading market intelligence firm focused on the global clean technology industry, which was acquired by Navigant Consulting where he was Managing Director of the Navigant Research business.

Prior to Pike Research, Clint was Chief Research Officer at ABI Research, a New York-based industry analyst firm concentrating on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets.

Clint holds a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications Management from the University of Dallas and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Washington & Lee University.

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