Qualcomm on Wednesday once again touted LTE IoT as a major step toward the eventual implementation of the fifth generation of mobile networks into the Internet of Things segment. While the true potential of IoT isn't expected to be unlocked before 5G becomes available on an international level, Qualcomm claims the connectivity revolution is already underway, especially given the completion of the first 5G New Radio standard — Release 15 — late last month in Lisbon, Portugal. LTE IoT was already added to 3GPP's Release 13 standard, having debuted within the scope of the LTE Advanced Pro solution which is already offering universal coverage and a wide variety of services that Qualcomm says will be crucial for supporting 5G.
LTE Advanced Pro is essentially a combination of NB-IoT and eMTC, with the two narrowband technologies being meant to work together to simplify the complexity of networks and devices meant to be connected to them in order to optimize their effective range, supported density, and battery life without making any functional compromises. The efforts to streamline the solution are a direct consequence of the nature of IoT offerings such as wearables and environmental sensors that makes optimal battery life and reliable connectivity take priority over advanced features. Qualcomm is estimating that more than 35 wireless carriers and other companies in the industry already vowed to deploy Cat-NB1 or Cat-M1 networks, with some of them pledging to implement both and already starting to deliver on their promises last year. 5G eMBB solutions are also set to be launched next year, covering both the sub-6GHz spectrum and millimeter-wave frequencies, allowing for a core network-agnostic IoT platform that will support those LTE services but also be compatible with 5G, Qualcomm said, adding that it's fully committed to accelerating that deployment going forward.
IoT is just one component of the 5G equation, with the next wireless standard being expected to allow for entirely new types of technologies, solutions, and businesses. According to Qualcomm's previous research, over $12 trillion in additional economic value will be attributed to 5G by 2035. The jump to the next generation of mobile networks is different from every previous such upgrade because it started being researched and developed with products and services in mind instead of being a result of an industry-wide desire to simply improve existing wireless infrastructure in terms of speeds, capacities, and latencies. In combination with the potential of private LTE and 5G networks, Qualcomm believes the next wireless upgrade will ultimately lead to a "fourth industrial revolution."