Alarm systems, home automation, internet of things, automation and 5G are inextricably linked.

At CEDIA recently, a roundtable led by CE Pro editor Jason Knott discussed 5G communications, describing it as network disruption, pointing out that the people most likely to be impact were installers and the people who stood to benefit most if properly prepared were those same installers.

WE’VE experienced plenty of disruption in the electronics security market over the past 5 years and now it’s time to get ready for wireless-based network disruption from 5G. According to the Cedia roundtable, security and smart home installers have 12 months to prepare themselves to take advantage of the changes. Perhaps that time-frame is a little tight but disruption there will certainly be.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has developed draft technical specifications for 5G which include but are not limited to 1 Gbps data rates for hotspots, 100 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload for wide-area coverage, massive connectivity (1 million connections per square kilometre), ultra-low latency (1 millisecond), high reliability (99.999 per cent for mission critical ultra-reliable communications), and mobility at high speeds (up to 500 km/h). There’s no point pretending any of this will come easily but there’s no point ignoring the fact that 5G offers providers such an eyewatering business proposition there is simply no chance they will not try to leverage it – particularly in high density metro areas if it’s possible to get around the challenges that built structures pose to 5G communications.

According to members of the roundtable, 5G is the most impactful trend in home technology over the last 2 decades and smart home installers and distributors need to start thinking about its implications for IoT, content delivery and mobility.

Frank Defilippis, integrator’s advocate at Dish Network, said the company bought $US20 billion worth of wireless spectrum over the last 20 years as it played a long game of getting into the wireless business.

According to Defilippis, there’s “nothing but opportunity,” and use cases for 5G’s various bands include low-speed, long-distance comms for such applications as agricultural controls, alongside short-range but fast comms for driverless cars or drone networks.

Something that will push 5G forward is that it’s not about a big spend. 5G radios are inexpensive with 10-year battery lives and networks can be very fast. Most importantly, Defilippis says, integrators already own the relationships that touch so many of the services enabled by 5G.

“Pay attention and get ready,” he advises.

Meanwhile, integrator Joe Whitaker of The Thoughtful Home described 5G as: “the most impactful trend we have seen in 20 years.”

According to Whitaker, when 5G comes along, cellular wireless technology will empower anything with a chipset and he says that considering 5G networks can support millions of devices simultaneously.

“It’s not just about your cell phone being directly connected to that wide area network – it’s your watch, it’s your shoes, it’s your everything else,” he said.

Whitaker insist the security and home automation industry is the only industry capable of deploying all of these endpoints and connecting them with content, devices, people and services: “We’re the conduit for all of that in the home,” he says.

Meanwhile, Mark Vogel, whose company Hauk Technology manufactures signal-transparent surfaces allowing satellite, 5G and other wireless signals to pass through roofs and other obstacles that might otherwise thwart these delicate radio waves, says advances there will help facilitate 5G.

According to Vogel, because 5G operates at higher frequencies than earlier generations (3 – 300 GHz), it can be impaired by obstacles like torrential rains and buildings. Hauk opens a virtual window to the finicky signals with an RF-friendly membrane applied to the exterior of a building, doubling as a skylight or blending into the rooftop material.

“We’re looking forward to wireless communities and wireless in our homes,” Vogel says. “Behind our panel, that’s where all the data is received in your house” and then amplified and distributed as needed.

And Ron Fleming, who is a former CEDIA VP and now at Voxx Accessories, says vendors “all believe the opportunity is limitless”.

“It’s an opportunity to not only upgrade the product, but to upgrade the functionality of the product…and get the consumer excited about all the additional capabilities,” Fleming said. Fleming told the roundtable security and home automation integrators were ideally placed to get consumers excited about 5G and they should get educated about the technology because clients are likely to turn to them when the reality of M2M device-to-cloud solutions sets in.”

Meanwhile CE Pro editor Jason Knott acknowledged 5G’s impending role in everything from low-rate IoT to high-speed video and pointed out that too few people were talking about it seriously, given its potential impact.

“We’re talking about this 5G networking disruption, but not a lot of other people are talking about it,” Knott said.

Here in Australia, while not too many people are talking about 5G, Telstra has just released its new IoT device monitoring product and plans a soft launch of its 5G infrastructure within 6 months.

With 2 million IoT devices connected to its network already, and an holistic view of what internet of things really means, its likely Telstra will have many more electronic security and home automation people will be talking about 5G very soon. That’s because alarm systems, home automation, internet of things, automation and 5G are inextricably linked.

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