Personalise your experience

Get the latest insights relevant to your sector.

Blog · 10 Feb 2022

5G: the game changer for mission-critical communications

Across industries, 5G’s reliability and consistency is providing the confidence for organisations to achieve transformational and operational benefits.

Andy Rowland
Head of digital manufacturing

By their nature, mission critical systems need to be always on and always ready.

If they’re not, organisations face operational disruption, financial loss and even worse, risk to human health, damage to valuable equipment and environmental harm. Fundamentally, no one needs technology that freezes or crashes at the wrong moment – whether it’s in the middle of a surgical operation or right at the end of an important system upgrade or data transfer.

Fortunately, 5G is the ideal next generation technology for underpinning mission-critical systems in four key ways:

  1. It’s very low latency – in fact, half the latency of private 4G and Long-Term Evolution (LTE).
  2. It has rock solid stability – because it’s all yours, unlike traditional wi-fi. It’s also not affected by lots of metal in factory settings.
  3. It can manage very high bandwidth demands – supporting the ability to analyse four to five times the amount of data 4G can handle, quickly and efficiently.
  4. It has high availability – upgrading from 99.9% with 4G to 99.999%, which might seem fractional, but makes a significant difference over a longer period of time.

All of these features create a combined connectivity solution that enables companies to have greater confidence that mission-critical systems will run smoothly and consistently. So, it’s no surprise we’re seeing organisations across the country deploying 5G to push the boundaries of what’s possible…

Transforming university campuses

The University of Warwick is the first public 5G connected university campus in the UK using a dedicated network for ultra-fast coverage for its students, staff, and visitors. Now it’s  live, this connectivity boost is already driving significant innovations in the university’s research and development, including ways to improve future road and pedestrian safety through trials for vehicle to vehicle communication. By using the power of their low latency and high speed network, they’ve been able to sync up real time sensors to an in-car live feed to create a prototype smart vehicle which is constantly aware of its surroundings. Plus they’ve recently managed to extend coverage beyond their 720 acre site to the ‘Silicon Spa’ area in Leamington, supporting a community of game developers with their innovative, tech-heavy projects.

Accelerating Industry 4.0

In Worcester, a private 5G deployment is also transforming a local engineering company’s factory into a far smarter, more connected production line. Inside, autonomous robots are boosting productivity by transporting products and materials, and the installation of collision detection sensors across the factory floor are improving health and safety. So far, it’s projected this has increased their output by as much as 2%.

Saving lives

In an emergency situation, every second counts. So, being able to offer real time information to health care professionals working with patients in the field can make the critical difference between life or death. With this in mind, Birmingham’s University Hospital are now trialling a haptic glove, which can be worn by paramedics to allow live transmission of high definition images, video and ultrasound to clinicians wearing AR headsets back at the hospital. This fast diagnosis and access to reliable, expert support is enabling paramedics to get on top life-threatening situations as quickly as possible.

Replacing humans in dangerous environments

Elsewhere 5G-enabled robotics also have the potential to protect lives by taking the place of humans operating in dangerous environments. In the oil and gas sector, hazardous tasks that put individuals at risk can now be done remotely by sending in robots. Inside these inhospitable environments, the reliability and stability of 5G is crucial for ensuring successful operations. Otherwise, there’s the possibility a human will need to be sent in anyway if their virtual alternatives encounter any problems.

Providing immediate, shared experiences

Mission-critical systems depend on transfer of knowledge and fast decision making which often depends on getting people together. Over the past 18 months, the demand for remote operations has rocketed, due to travel restrictions. 5G is helping companies become more agile and responsive and break down the barriers to the transfer of vital information between locations. Now, where training, experience and guidance can be given remotely, there are potentially significant cost savings to be made, as well as productivity and efficiency gains.

Protect your private network

Many of these remote operational and IoT technologies rely heavily on private 5G networks and they’re more vulnerable than people realise. We’re already seeing a rise in malicious behaviour exploiting operational technology like this to carry out denial of service and “man in the middle” attacks. These intrusions are particularly worrying considering many of these mission-critical technologies support safety-systems in hazardous environments. For protection, organisations will require a robust combination of methods which not only secure the network itself, but also the devices connected to it.

Get the right support

5G isn’t as simple as wi-fi. While the benefits are huge, trying to design, build and secure 5G yourself is challenging and can be taxing on your resources, especially with all the moving parts and service elements involved.

We’ve helped many of the organisations mentioned above deploy 5G as part of their operations and understand all the components you need to support your move to next generation connectivity. If you’d like to find out more about our 5G solutions, please get in touch.

Contact