We spoke to Lara Moloney, Head of S5GConnect at The Scotland 5G Centre, about the use and implementation of 5G.
Lara Moloney has had an extensive career in the smart city sector and was previously a Director and Chief Operating Officer for an independent publishing company – meaning she has experienced all areas of rapid business expansion and implementation.
S5GConnect is Scotland’s gateway for advanced connectivity. Their role is to “lock in a network of partners that will consider how 5G and advanced connectivity can deliver innovation to Scotland’s key sectors.” Explains Moloney.
S5GConnect is focused on supporting the Scottish Government, local authorities, and the business community in understanding the transformational power that 5G can enable and providing the technical knowledge and expertise to support that specific development. Through her role here, Lara can assist local businesses to realize their 5G potential. Much of the methods used for this can be mirrored in other regions to help improve connectivity worldwide.
Funded by the Scottish Government, its work brings together industry partners, entrepreneurs, and a network of SMEs. The organization has begun placing innovation hubs across both urban and rural Scotland. The first went live in Dumfries, Scotland, on October 29th last year. More hubs are due to launch this year which will help businesses see the benefits of 5G networks, and these could help provide an environment in which they can prototype, test, and develop.
How long before we have complete coverage?
There is a crucial difference between the public coverage 5G and business coverage; discussing the business 5G coverage, Lara comments that 5G “holds the power to truly transform business operations.” With a proven impact on remote health care and energy manufacturing, agriculture, transport, logistics, and many other businesses.
5G has evolved so much and will help revolutionize the business industry, Lara gave the example of the initial introduction of the App Store on mobiles in 2008 and how that has changed our lives, saying, “look how different, the way we engage with entire industries, You know, you can get on a train, book a taxi or a hotel, do banking… look at social media and how it’s impacted everything. Now, that’s just in the last 12 years. So, I anticipate with the further advanced connectivity and the capability, the opportunity for transformation will be enabled by 5G.”
According to Lara, the next five to eight years will be exciting as the 5G capability rolls out for businesses.
Main benefits of working with 5G
Many benefits have already been mentioned, like connectivity and speed, but Lara points out that this is just one part; there are also business simulations she says, “Imagine you work in a dangerous or hazardous environment, and you wish to train new staff without putting them at risk” – a few examples of this she gives are firefighters needing to deal with oil and gas. With 5G connectivity, these environments can be simulated and individuals can use this to receive extensive training off-site. Through this, they learn and develop the skills that they need safely.
This training could also be extended over into the education sector, especially in more rural locations, or training could evolve drastically worldwide. Lara states, “the simple answer about 5G private networks is that they offer increased security, increased control, and flexibility.” She continues by saying, “It’s much more scalable, and it will offer paralleled performance with predictable, low levels of latency. So that means it’s more reliable connectivity and therefore more reliable performance.”
5G trials and tests in the last few years showcase how 5G can transform industries and how challenges are met.
There has been a wide range of very positive work done around 5G, especially in the UK; it can support industries from manufacturing to healthcare. Lara states
“I think identifying routes to support the health and wellbeing of people is key and remote healthcare is a focus for our Dumfries hub. It is also one of the most challenging because of procurement processes, connectivity in hospital environments, and regulation around new technologies in a care setting”Lara Moloney, Head of S5GConnect at The Scotland 5G Centre
In Norway, the Nokia Robot activity at Oulu University training hospital shows how connectivity can underpin boring and repetitive activities, freeing up time for care and direct patient engagement. These test robots could collect and deliver medicines around the hospital, enabled by 5G connectivity, saving hours for the staff. This was coupled with asset trackers being deployed with high accuracy indoor positioning capability so beds and other critical items could easily be located in real-time.
Moving forward, there are hundreds of examples where this network deployment and use of robots could enable time and cost savings. In manufacturing, construction, and logistics – all these environments can utilize remote tracking and automation technologies. Small productivity gains in a manufacturing setting can very positively impact the profit levels and provide a competitive edge to businesses. Nokia has been doing some great work with 5G, and their Oulu factory was actually named the 5G factory of the future.
Beyond 5G, the 6G future There are constant upgrades in this area, and eventually, we will move from 5G to 6G. As Lara states, “5G is revolutionizing digital services and enabling communities to embrace digital connectivity, and so too will 6G. 6G communications networks are expected to be commercially available by around 2030, and they will deliver transformative benefits beyond the already remarkable capabilities of 5G.”