Tech Bites: 5G Will Drive Economic Growth and Innovation in Manufacturing

Picture this: Doctors performing surgeries from miles away. Augmented reality devices providing employee training at a job site in real-time when a crisis occurs. Self-driving vehicles cutting down travel time by 40 percent. Twenty billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices communicating across the globe. Wireless connectivity that helps save lives and cuts healthcare costs by billions of dollars each year.  

This is not the far-off future; this is happening now. Smarter devices, faster data, and new technologies have led to a dramatic shift in the way people consume information and how businesses apply it, leading to a significant increase in data demand and usage. 

We live in a world where connectivity is no longer a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity to how we function and grow as a society.  

5G technology is the solution that can deliver this type of connectivity. But implementing 5G doesn’t just happen with the flip of a switch. It requires an intricately connected web of communications infrastructure with many partners working together. The end-product, which we know as networks, are the result of cell towers, small cells, and fiber working in concert to ensure users have the coverage and access they need. 

Source: Crown Castle

Small Cells: Making the Future of 5G a Reality

Small cells increase network coverage and capacity by bringing wireless networks closer to end users through a series of small cell “nodes.” These small cell nodes, connected by fiber, are smaller and more discreet than traditional towers and are typically deployed on existing infrastructure like streetlights, utility poles, and traffic lights. 

Here in Austin, Crown Castle has also been working with the city to build the foundation for the fast-approaching 5G revolution, deploying miles of fiber, constructing 17 small cell nodes, and investing millions in Downtown Austin with this work. 

5G and Manufacturing

5G’s impact will be seen across nearly every industry, particularly manufacturing. Smart factories are the future of the manufacturing industry, and the low latency and high reliability that 5G brings will support critical applications and advancement. 

5G will enable greater agility on the factory floor, improved safety management, real-time data collection and analysis, and increased awareness of manufacturing processes through enhanced communications and feedback. The coming technology will also enable the automation and control of robots and smart logistics systems and make factories more efficient. 

Companies are recognizing these benefits and investing in 5G. Here in Texas, Ericsson recently announced a new 5G smart factory in Lewisville. This facility will produce 5G radios and advanced antenna systems and utilize innovative 5G-powered solutions for on-the-floor processes including connected logistics, automated assembly, packing and product handling, and autonomous carts. 

Crown Castle and the City of Austin

Austin has a global reputation as an innovation hub. The city prides itself on being commerce-friendly and promoting economic development. 

Communications infrastructure and 5G technology play a leading role in fostering a competitive local business climate, and wireless bandwidth is essential for Austin to realize its potential as both a smart city and future global tech hub. From autonomous vehicles to smart manufacturing, the evolution of new technology and innovation relies on a robust, local communications infrastructure. 

Full 5G coverage will take years and will depend, in part, on city leaders collaborating with the private sector to reduce regulatory barriers and streamline an expedited permitting process for small cells and fiber. Crown Castle looks forward to continued collaboration with the City of Austin and key stakeholders to prepare the region for the ever-increasing demand for data and information. 

Malcolm Eve is a public affairs manager for the South region at Crown Castle, the largest provider of shared communications infrastructure in the U.S.