5G industry news Acceleration & Innovation

Innovation Briefing Issue 7 | Vertical markets

  • 8 minute read
  • Published by Vicki DeBlasi on 14 Dec 2021
  • Last modified 10 Dec 2021
An important role for UK5G is educating industries beyond telecommunications about the benefits of the technology

Vicki DeBlasi, Head of Marketing at UK5G explains the new campaigns which will do just this.

Answering the often asked three key questions about 5G is the key to unlocking the demand from vertical industries. The questions are: “What can I actually do with 5G?”, “How will it benefit me?” and “How do I go about getting it?” To do this, UK5G has launched a campaign working closely with DCMS to increase awareness and understanding of how 5G is relevant to individual industries.

Our first focus has been on creative industries, a sector that contributes £306 million to the UK’s GDP every day, and is increasingly going mobile. Intel’s 5G Economics of Entertainment report forecasts that 5G could bring $1.3 trillion in new revenues to the media and entertainment industry globally by 2028, and that 57 per cent of global wireless media revenues will be generated using 5G by 2025.

The technology has the potential to transform the production and broadcast of content from sports, news and documentaries through to big-budget films. Covid-19 has already increased the number of remote performances, but 5G will help to embed this way of working for the long term, by reducing travel costs and permitting more sustainable ways of working. For example, the British band Coldplay has said it won’t tour again until shows can be done in a more environmentally-friendly way. Instead of sending out production trucks or using in-stadium production rooms, content can be streamed in high-definition video to production teams anywhere in the world, within minutes, meaning less travel, and lower carbon dioxide emissions. Brighton based 5G Festival test bed is the world’s first immersive hybrid festival, connecting artists across continents. It uses Mativision’s 360 immersive live streaming platform that makes use of increased bandwidth and ultra-low latency technology. Band members can collaborate from home, and don’t need to travel for gigs.

Spectators at live events from sports to the performing arts can have the experience enhanced through 5G. For example, Project Vista is delivering next-generation viewing experiences for event spectators by providing live multi-angle HD video streams and interactive content from the event directly to devices in stadia. Beyond a stadium setting, the Connected Cowes project used 5G to stream real-time, virtual reality video from onboard yachts racing at events from Cowes Week this Summer.  Designed to widen the appeal of the sport and enable immersive teaching experiences, the project took Cowes Week out of the water and onto the internet, with 5G.

And it’s not just the in-person experience that 5G is set to transform. The pandemic has forced arts organisations to get creative, with the Royal Opera House delivering the first virtual reality opera during the lockdown. With 5G, we can expect to see ever richer, immersive and personalised experiences from the comfort of your own home. 5G Edge-XR, combining 5G networks and cloud graphics processing units, will allow audiences to view immersive sporting events from all angles across a broad range of devices including smartphones, tablets, televisions, augmented reality and virtual reality. 

Virtual Vacations

Tourism is another sector that contributes significantly to the UK economy, some £106 billion a year pre-pandemic. By 2025, the industry is anticipated to be worth over £257 billion, or around 10 per cent of the UK’s GDP, supporting 3.8 million jobs. With sustainability an ever-increasing imperative, the option of holidaying in the UK may become more popular. Here too, the Testbeds and Trials programme is helping the industry to explore 5G and find innovative ways to encourage the public to spend more and stay at sites for longer. The Eden Universe project is one example. It’s testing augmented, virtual and mixed realities to enhance the visitor experience at the Eden Project in Cornwall. The 5G Connected Forest, a £5 million project in Sherwood Forest, sees 5G deployed to support rural visitors and manage environmental robotics, while the MANY (Mobile Access North Yorkshire) project focuses on delivering broadband to rural notspots, using newly available (1.8Ghz to 4.2Ghz spectrum).

Globally, 2.6 billion people play video games and demand increased during the pandemic, with mobile and cloud gaming leading this growth.

Mobile allows publishers to reach a bigger market of people who haven’t made an investment in expensive console or PC hardware.

Mak Sharma, Professor in Computer Science Education at Birmingham City University, who observed the demo, said: “Mobile gaming has increased at least 10 per cent year on year for the last 10 years. It rose 14 per cent last year and with the advent of 5G I predict that it will almost double in the next couple of years.”

Microtransactions are also providing a revenue growth stream as players trade real money for in-game virtual currencies. But all these trends demand a faster data download speed and bandwidth than 4G can offer. In a public showcase in Birmingham, several cloud-based games from Hatch, the cloud gaming platform, were live-streamed via Vodafone’s 5G network, allowing super quick response times.

A growing number of gamers are taking an interest in the environment and conservation. A 2019 UNEP report, Playing for the Planet, advises on incorporating “green nudges” within video games in the hope that players can contribute to solutions to social and environmental challenges. 

Manufacturing industries are looking hard at 5G. Research from Vodafone indicates that the application of new digital technologies such as 5G and IoT could add £3.6 billion to the sector’s productivity, or GVA (Gross Value Add) in 2025, and £6.3 billion in 2030. Encouragingly, 74 per cent of manufacturing decision-makers are considering upgrading their communications networks by 2022.

The increased bandwidth

and ultra low latency connectivity offered by 5G will enable manufacturers to increase more product control over their supply chains. With customer demands growing, and pressure on margins tightening, identifying issues sooner is crucial for both profitability and sustainability. AE Aerospace, a leading manufacturing business in the West Midlands, is working with the West Midlands 5G programme, using 5G to track and monitor tools and machine parts, checking for calibration, usage and faults. All of this means fewer ‘lost’ assets being unnecessarily replaced, fewer outputs failing subsequent quality control checks, and a shift to a predictive maintenance model, with the ability to identify defects an estimated 75 days earlier. The operational efficiencies and productivity gains are significant, but reducing product wastage and making fewer unnecessary trips to service parts that are fully operational will also have a positive impact on the environment.

5G and industrial digital technologies such as augmented and virtual reality can also be used to assist and upskill workers on-site, reducing carbon emissions by minimising the need for workers to travel to training sites, or for skilled engineers to visit a site for repairs or support. 5G’s enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) capability enables the streaming of Ultra HD video, which can provide staff with immersive, interactive training and support sessions over mixed reality, utilising real-time data.

The 5G Factory of the Future project is using augmented and mixed reality technologies for assembly, maintenance and inspection activities; content will be directly fed to a worker at the point of use via devices such as tablets and personal headsets. Amid an ageing workforce and lack of digital skills — 60 per cent of the engineers in the UK are over the age of 50 — 5G can help to decentralise knowledge and act as a lifeline for the sector. 

5G also helps robots to complete more complex tasks than ever before. We may even begin to see ‘dark factories’, where fully automated production lines don’t require lighting, saving significant amounts of energy.  While dark factories won’t be suitable for all manufacturing sectors, 5G and Industrial IoT can ensure monitoring and optimisation of factory conditions such as temperature, energy and humidity, helping to identify and correct any deviations which may impact output quality. Critically these insights can also help manufacturers to understand their optimum energy settings, driving more efficient use of resources — good for the planet and the bottom line.  

There will still be room for people, of course, as 5G can help to facilitate more effective cooperation and interaction between humans and machines. In a ‘world-first’, the 5G Connected Automated Logistics (CAL) project, based in the North East, is using 5G-connected, autonomous 40-tonne trucks to distribute parts and assemblies across the Nissan plant in Sunderland, linking to many local SMEs in their supply chain. Critically, through 5G the suppliers will be able to remotely control these trucks, something that has not been possible before due to latency issues. Such intervention is critical to ensuring worker safety.  The goal is to develop a globally unique centre of excellence and operational test facility for CAL at the Nissan Sunderland site.

We know from speaking to organisations that 5G can seem complex and intimidating; this work is looking to address that. Our work with the four verticals will increase understanding, generate immediate demand, and facilitate commercial deployments. I, along with the team at UK5G, also hope that 5G will play an instrumental role in both improving productivity, and protecting our planet.