In the last three months, Microsoft has been on a tear building out its portfolio of 5G core and virtualized network service management technologies having acquired Affirmed Networks, and most recently, Metaswitch. The acquisition of these telecom tech companies by the leading enterprise IT technology company and cloud service provider may seem curious at first, but these transactions highlight the acceleration of a transformative trend that we at neXt Curve dubbed Under-the-Bottom (UTB) in our 2019 technology horizon study for Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s communications and media sector regulator.
With the advent of 5G there has been growing interest in what the next-generation mobile network technology means for industry. Operators and industrial OT (Operational Technology) players have been investigating the use cases and potential value that the 5G promises and technology can bring to manufacturing, supply chain and the factory of the future. It is commonly known and expected that 5G will bring about massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) and enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), but what do these use cases mean for manufacturers? Are these really the 5G promises that matter for the smart factory and the ongoing evolution of Industry 4.0?