How Does Analytics Unlock the Optimum Benefits Of 5G For the Transportation Industry?

Aditya Saligram Singh Balaji
Sathvik AS
May 10, 2021 8 minute read

5G, the most recent update in cell networks unlocks a plethora of connectivity upgrades from reducing instances of lagging to enabling enhanced device-to-device collaboration, real-time. 5G is estimated to have a lag only of 1 millisecond, which is about 50 times faster than 4G. [1]  Therefore, the extent of the potential it can unlock is immense and understandably, multiple countries world over have already prioritized eventual deployment of the same. “38 countries had 5G networks as of August 2020 and many more have had 5G mobile technology deployed in part. It is in fact expected that 5G will reach 1 billion users in 3.5 years, compared with 4 years for 4G and 12 years for 3G.[2] Countries such as India, Chile, and Brazil, have already invested in 5G. Russia is one of the major countries that has deployed 5G technology. Others like China, USA, Australia and Canada have launched 5G networks.

Across industries, 5G can bolster existing capabilities – some of the industries where it creates value add includes: [3]

– Energy: Access to more efficient power grids, increased ease in production and transmission

– Manufacturing: Ease out maintenance costs, superior supply chain movement, pre-emption & prevention of supply chain interruptions

– Agriculture: Better management of resources, improved irrigation & fertilization, better crop/livestock monitoring, improved task automation

– Retail & Beauty: Improved VR/AR trials, improved online customer assistance

– BFSI: Fast-tracked transactions, improved security, decision-making backed by accurate & real-time data, better customer service, strengthened protection against fraud

– Healthcare: Improvement of remote consultations/monitoring, better data management

– Media and entertainment: Better mobile advertising, improved VR/AR options and seamless website/streaming site experiences

– Transport: More visibility and control over private and public fleets, better vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity/communications, better testing of self-driven cars, improved transportation data and system monitoring

Research estimates that companies’ abilities to tap into 5G networks to streamline business operations will determine sustenance and ability to maintain a competitive edge. Private LTE and 5G networks are touted to be the key to tapping into a “beneficial ecosystem of additional enterprise services in areas such as cloud and applications” that are to be valued at approximately $2 trillion. Of the industries, Manufacturing ($1.3 billion) alongside energy and utilities ($1.2 billion), and transportation and logistics ($698 million), [4]” is expected to generate more than 60% of the total market.

Through the course of this article, we specifically focus on how 5G is slated to unlock new potential for the transport industry, its use cases, the challenges that stand in the way of successful implementation of 5G and how analytics is central to realizing these efforts.

How can 5G help the Transport & Logistics Industry?

Connected vehicles:

By 2022, 100% new cars are expected to be pre-equipped with smart telematics. And the efficiency of hese connected vehicles are to be further bolstered by 5G. The higher connectivity enabled by 5G will create new fleet management capabilities by maximizing SLAs, reducing downtime, enabling fleet managers to connect multiple devices and monitor asset movement from remote areas, in near real-time.

Additionally, while autonomous vehicles becoming a primary mode of transport is, at least, three decades away, it is important for companies to budget for and set up autonomous cars ecosystems now to prepare for future cloud computing capabilities and facilitate swift data exchange, adoption of payment innovations from within the vehicle, remote diagnosis of vehicle health, vehicle maintenance, and accurate automotive insurance checks. What analytics can do, is leverage 5G’s high data movement rates, and low latency to translate historical data and near real-time data into near real-time, actionable insights.

Analytics help leverage real-time data from the vehicle sensors, and uses them for improving predictive maintenance capabilities, makes sense of data collected from the vehicle’s movement and experience on the road, helps better gauge accident/collision information, etc. And these capabilities are only going to be strengthened by the speed and ease in connectivity enabled by 5G networks.

It can also help vehicles alert each other on traffic pain points, safety issues, etc. While AVs becoming a common reality is still decades away, even in its current form, 5G, combined with AI-powered ML algorithms, can enable swift fleet and driver management, thanks to its low latency.

Track goods from warehouse to delivery:

The improved capabilities of 5G indicate that tracking goods from the warehouse to the time of delivery can be done to the most intricate detail. By combining the advantages of 5G, IoT and analytics, precise movement and location of a device can be tracked at all times. Analytics can help cross-reference vehicle movement to warehouse management, and even optimize delivery channels real-time, directing goods from one touchpoint to the other, all the way ensuring that the route from the warehouse to the consumer is optimized and rerouting of goods can be handled efficiently.

Furthermore, these capabilities also extend to goods that can be monitored with sensors even in the warehouse. This helps to keep an automated track of stocks, helps track supply chain movement in the backend and ensures that the goods being transported, especially in the case of perishable items, do not deteriorate in quality. This also helps ensure the safety of fragile or high priority items that are being transported, enabling tracking not only when being transported but also at each touchpoint.

Furthermore, last mile delivery services get an even better upgrade as the timely update pertaining to goods and vehicle movement can help streamline the process of delivery. 5G will also prove pivotal in enabling more complex delivery systems like using drones for remote access areas.

Collision/Accident Management & Emergency Response:

5G increases fleet visibility and when backed with data analytics, the technology improves overall vehicle safety, security, and reliability. Given the access to near real-time information about road/route conditions, and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (traffic lights, IoT devices, sensors) communication, this helps improve traffic control operations, reduces congestion, and much more. The data collected with the help of 5G can also improve existing algorithms and models, improving their prediction accuracy – a function that will prove vital for future operational efficiency in AVs.

Challenges to leveraging the most out of 5G technology:

Apart from the numerous benefits that 5G technology has, there are multiple challenges that need to be mitigated to derive optimum benefits. Among these, the largest drawback to making the most of 5G technology is its nature of being short range. Any frequency that is up to 38 ghz has a very short range and therefore, also a limited ability when it comes to transcending/going through objects like the exterior walls of homes/buildings, for instance. But there is a straightforward solution to the same, which is to use more antenna cells to strengthen the frequency of the network.

However, the solutioning too is not without challenges. Needing more antenna cells for stronger frequencies would also indicate that rolling out the network is going to take longer than its predecessors 4G/3G. Moreover, more numbers of fiber optic cables would be needed to efficiently connect these antennas. While the signal can be repeated a few times, 100s of these antennas cannot be meshed together, being powered by a single fiber connection without it drastically reducing performance capabilities. And once launched, more people would want access to the benefits of the network, for which, the providers are going to need faster internet pipes to support the same.

Once all of these basic challenges are mitigated, only then will 5G network be ready to be rolled out.

Beyond the industry applications of analytics + 5G:

Apart from being pivotal for numerous industries that can tap into the benefits of 5G technology, analytics is also extremely vital to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of 5G services. IoT and industry 4.0 are of tremendous importance for seamless 5G networking and connectivity, and without tapping into big data and analytics, these benefits can never be leveraged to their full potential. When combined, all of these technologies will herald in a new generation of smart transportation.

In the same way that 5G grew from 4G, within the next decade, 6G is expected to improve connectivity capabilities further and multiple governments, institutions and companies are vying for the same. After all, “A new mobile generation has appeared approximately every 10 years since the first 1G system, Nordic Mobile Telephone, was introduced in 1982” [5].

Therefore, 5G is not only the highest cellular network capability and connectivity but rather an important landmark in the journey of continuously improving network capabilities. And those that tap into the same in the transport and logistics industry are sure to gain a competitive edge, ensuring swift vehicle movement, delivery processes and maximum consumer satisfaction.


Aditya Saligram Singh Balaji

Sathvik AS