Update on the Realities of 5G: Benefits will ultimately outweigh initial hiccups

Published On
Jun 15, 2022

The long-anticipated rollout of 5G cellular broadband connectivity hasn’t been without its share of challenges.

The most recent iteration of the technology went live Jan. 19, 2022, and began with airline executives warning that 5G radio stations could potentially affect and interfere with altimeters—pilots’ instruments for altitude readings used to land in poor visibility. International carriers canceled some U.S.-bound flights, and airlines quickly adjusted schedules until AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. began limiting 5G signals near major airports.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an Air Worthiness Directive for certain airplane models. The directive was “prompted by a determination that radio altimeters cannot be relied upon to perform their intended function if they experience interference from wireless broadband operations in the 3.7–3.98 GHz frequency band (5G C-Band).”

In the physical security industry, as the true sunset phase began for 3G and 4G, security dealers struggled to ensure customers’ control panels were upgraded, with some continuing to work at changing out communicators so clients aren’t left without alarm detection signaling and central station monitoring.

Experts are also urging that integrating internet of things (IoT) devices and smart sensors will require 5G equipment to be cyber-secured to prevent hacking and malicious takeover. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, through the National Risk Management Center, is leading risk mitigation efforts by working with government and industry partners to ensure the security and resiliency of 5G technology and infrastructure.

What does 5G enable in security?

The next generation of high-speed cellular networks will continue to spread across the nation, allowing increased connectivity for video surveillance, loT applications, critical infrastructure, smart cities, industrial automation, positioning services, asset and people tracking, environmental sensors and electric vehicle charging stations.

According to research firm Gartner, outdoor surveillance cameras will be the biggest market for 5G solutions initially until surpassed by connected vehicles. Enhanced cellular connectivity also plays a critical role in surveillance applications at large outdoor sites or cities with vast infrastructures.

The IP camera surveillance market stands to reap substantial reward from 5G—with the ability to stream video directly into the cloud for remote viewing and storage of high-resolution, full-motion video as well as the ability to apply artificial intelligence (A.I.). Use cases deploying loT sensors in an industrial setting, and even cameras in automation, can be performed reliably, without interference and at faster speeds—such as remote door control or even robotics.

Leaning into the benefits

For systems integrators, 5G represents an opportunity to increase the number of specifications and enter new vertical markets. Making use of 5G cellular connectivity can effectively extend the reach of your security projects—including video surveillance, intrusion detection and smart sensors. Because 5G can deploy different frequency ranges to enable faster speeds and more capabilities, it fosters intelligent, edge and computing processes, handling data efficiently and with lower latency. Consider the inherent time and labor savings in wireless, which can replace hardwiring and connect security equipment in new ways for flexibility and reduced costs.

In video surveillance applications, latency will be nearly eliminated, making camera feeds more responsive and enhancing real-time monitoring. There’s also direct benefits to image quality, as 5G stands ready to support 4K and 8K video. Uploading and downloading video, with assistance from the cloud, may now transpire in a matter of seconds, while viewing cameras on mobile devices will be infused with better quality and even more responsiveness. The role of video analytics and A.I. will expand with faster speeds and the greater capacity of 5G networks.

Smart and safe cities deploying 5G will allow video deployment for a range of applications, such as public safety, traffic management, fire detection, crowd management, access control and intruder and gunshot detection. Wireless infrastructure that will also proliferate with 5G includes corporate campuses, unmanned aerial systems, borders and perimeters, smart working spaces and biometrics.

5G will continually be updated with newer generations. It is forward-compatible, with the ability to support future services that may not exist today.

What to watch for

As you enter the loT era, systems integrators need to master wireless and keep up with cybersecurity by deploying software tools for monitoring and security maintenance. Some manufacturers are entering the burgeoning market with devices that are not focused on secure hardware and software—so the buyer must beware and research specifications fully before deployment. You will also need to become more reliant on software, as it is becoming commonplace in all parts of the systems integration business.

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