The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed mandatory work model changes and a shift to remote work on large parts of the global economy, which has accelerated the pace of digital transformation already underway. Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, service providers continue to use 5G.

According to the latest “Ericsson Mobile Communications Report”, commercial 5G deployment began in 2019. In 2019, there will be 13 million 5G users worldwide, including 3 million in South Korea; it is estimated that 5G users worldwide will reach 2.6 billion in 2025.

With the rapid development of telemedicine, ubiquitous video communications, distance education, online video, games, and online collaboration, network infrastructure providers have been enthusiastically sought after and reinvigorated investor confidence.

Although the search for a vaccine has naturally strengthened investors’ confidence in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, the technology industry has become one of the beneficiaries of the epidemic lockdown and has played a more important role in the global S&P 500 index.

Social distancing and the widespread use of online tools from today’s video conferencing to future augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools will change many workplaces including factories and offices. The introduction of 5G technology before the global new crown virus pandemic provides manufacturers and telecom operators with the ability to build smart factories and truly utilize technologies such as autonomous collaborative robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the Internet of Things (IoT). opportunity.

As consumer demands from cars to clothing, from detergents to beverages have become more and more personalized, manufacturers are reconfiguring their old factories designed for mass production and equipped with new wireless Functional and sensor-driven factories and machinery are now required to promote mass customization worldwide. In this process, manufacturers are phasing out some traditional cables in order to improve the versatility of the factory floor, and maximize the use of space and increase productivity.

For operators, 5G accelerates the promise of enterprise digitization and opens up new sources of income. The high growth of its traditional consumer connections and voice services is far behind us. In addition to energy and utilities, the manufacturing industry represents one of the most important areas where operators use 5G technology to solve the new revenue potential of industry digitization. In the future, the total revenue of operators of 5G commercial IoT connections in automobiles, augmented reality and virtual reality, smart cities, smart homes, and digital health wearable devices will exceed US$8 billion.

Next generation manufacturing

5G technology provides network features essential for manufacturing. Need low latency and high reliability to support critical applications. High bandwidth and connection density ensure ubiquitous connections. These are the fundamental reasons why manufacturers currently rely on fixed networks. Mobile 5G technology will provide greater flexibility, lower costs and shorter delivery times for the reconfiguration, layout optimization and change of factory floor production.

Ericsson’s market research has identified the most critical categories of manufacturing use cases that 5G will enable operators to address, including:

1. Industrial control and automation system

Automation and control of robots and factories and intelligent logistics systems. Industrial automation is one of the vertical industries that can benefit from 5G, including, for example, greater flexibility, reduction of cables, and support for new applications. Mercedes-Benz has cooperated with Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson to establish the world’s first 5G mobile network for automobile production at its “Factory 56” plant in Sindelfingen, Germany. All production systems and machines in the factory will be connected via a secure 5G and run at gigabit data rates and almost real-time low latency, thus providing Mercedes-Benz with greater flexibility on the factory floor and improving Production accuracy and efficiency.

2. Planning and design system

Simulate factory process and training support. Augmented reality (AR) is used for troubleshooting to help reduce the cost of failures and reduce production downtime. For example, Ericsson is using 5G technology and technology from Telia, a service provider based in Northern Europe, to automate its manufacturing plant in Tallinn, Estonia. The solutions deployed include AR troubleshooting, quality control and testing for electronic components.

By using AR glasses or a terminal, the troubleshooting program can cover the manuals, instructions and collective knowledge of all other troubleshooting programs, so that they can quickly find potential problems. Field tests show that when using AR, the time to troubleshoot the circuit board is reduced by 50%.

3. Field equipment

Opportunities for service providers

In a constantly changing environment, telecom operators need the best technology to meet their business needs. The rise of 5G will enhance many existing applications and create new applications that current technologies cannot satisfy. In turn, this requires continuous network development to provide low latency and high reliability, which is the key to solving manufacturing applications.

By using 5G to respond to key digital challenges in industries such as manufacturing, telecom operators can play a role other than network developers and solve new sources of income by becoming service supporters or even service creators. The digitization of industry-specific business processes provides telecommunications operators with broad opportunities, not only to provide customers with ICT services, but also to use 5G technology to provide new strategic directions for improving efficiency and competitiveness, thereby laying the foundation for growth.

But this cannot be treated like the commercial services of consumer voice and broadband connections. If operators are to compete at the upper level of the value chain, new business models are needed. Success will depend on deeper and closer partnerships, as well as substantial investment in understanding the needs of the enterprise and working closely with the ecosystem of equipment, platforms and solution providers.

It’s time to take action. No need to wait to start testing new business models, seize emerging opportunities such as the Internet of Things and create more revenue opportunities. Through experimentation and reconsideration of what role to assume, operators will be able to ensure the advantages of 5G. Understanding your customers and the different value chains of 5G is essential to building future businesses.