5G Connectivity Promises New Opportunities For Vending

5GAdvances in wireless connectivity promise faster Internet connections. 5G technology, which will boost data speeds and improve cloud access, will be available in 2019, according to panelists at the recent CES show in Las Vegas.

5G will offer low latency, which refers to a network’s ability to process a high volume of data with minimal delay. According to the panelists at CES, low latency will keep the price of the connectivity down by offloading phone memory to the cloud.

One panelist, Hans Vestberg, executive vice president of Verizon, said 5G will give companies new opportunities to engage work forces and connect to customers. Verizon will introduce 5G this year, with an initial focus on residential broadband.

While 5G promises new capabilities, the vending industry first faces the need to upgrade to 4G, said Steve Garrett, a sales engineer for OptConnect, a provider of wireless connectivity solutions for unattended equipment. The 3G networks that many vending machines are currently using will be discontinued in the near future.

Verizon will stop activating 3G after June this year, he said, and the 3G network will no longer be accessible after December of 2019. Select cellular providers will be able to keep 3G devices online if Verizon permits it, he said.

Why Upgrade?

So why should a vending operation invest in 4G when 5G is going to be available next year?

Despite the comments from speakers at the recent CES show in Las Vegas, Garrett said 5G will not be widely available next year. He said it will be a couple of years before 5G devices start to be prevalent in the market and before the required network changes are completed.

Garrett said 5G will not require a completely new network infrastructure, but it will require changes to equipment in the network to support 5G’s promises of much lower latency, guaranteed delivery, and speeds sufficient to replace fiber optic connections between  points.

Most vending applications will not need 5G, he said. 4G offers sufficient speed and low latency for every vending application that will be available in the near future, Garrett said. Latency refers to how long it takes a network to begin to respond to a communication action, such as the swiping of a credit card for authorization, and now ranges up to one half second.

Vending Machines Need 4G Boards

Vending machines that have their own embedded designs on their boards but don’t currently support 4G will need to recreate the boards to support a 4G embedded modem chip, he said.

He suggested vending operators invest in 4G technology by connecting to an external modem or router that could later be exchanged when new technology arrives.

One example of a vending application that would require 5G would be a telemedicine booth in a mall. Such an application would provide a
procedure that needs to be tightly controlled in time, Garrett said. The procedure would require low latency and a guarantee of transmission of data and possibly high definition video. Such an application doesn’t presently exist because the transmission networks aren’t sufficient to support it.

As a tradeoff with higher speeds, 5G signals will not travel as far as 4G because it uses higher frequencies, he said. 5G signals can’t get through walls as easily as 3G or 4G, making it much worse for vending machines inside buildings. To address this, carriers will have to install small antennas throughout a town or city. This is one of the network changes needed to make 5G prevalent, and they will begin in places that are densely populated.

CES Panelists Excited About 5G

Christiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, noted on one CES panel that his company will have 5G phones in stores in 2019, and that 5G will bring economies of scale faster to industries.

He said IT infrastructure will move up to the cloud, which will change business models in many industries. Panelist Qi Lu, president and chief operating officer at Baidu, a Chinabased web services provider, said 5G will allow his company to develop more artificial intelligence applications.

Lu said 5G allows a higher density of mobile broadband and lower battery consumption, which will enable faster implementation of Internet of Things technologies.

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