We caught up with Ivo Rook, senior VP for IoT at Sprint, to find out how 5G will revolutionise the IoT sector

How much of a game changer is 5G going to be for IoT technology? 

5G is a game changer because of the impact it can produce. In simple terms, 5G can eventually provide such a rapid response that it can be the difference between a car crashing or not crashing into another car because it directly communicates with the network significantly quicker than 4G LTE. This will put at our fingertips massive computing power with edge computing. 

5G is not only significant because it’s a faster network – things such as speed, capacity, and latency all matter. What makes 5G so critical is that we can designate it as the first network designed for software. It has technical capabilities that will allow completely new software solutions to be developed on top of it.

You need 5G for IoT technology to scale in a big way. 5G can handle the capacity, allows you to enable new use cases and roll out applications rapidly.  


Why should operators consider building networks for software, rather than for smartphones? 

When you look at networks today, smartphones are the biggest use case for them. Nevertheless, the smartphone is not a particularly interesting use case from a traffic point of view. We have come to a pivotal moment where it’s going to be about software rather than smartphones. 

When you look at IoT, every IoT use case is different. Some have a high download and others have a high upload. If you attempt to accommodate software by utilizing the same network that you use for smartphones, the network won’t be well suited. You must separate it from smartphone traffic at the earliest moment possible and route it to a new network. Operators should take the future of IoT seriously by building networks for software because AI, robotics, and autonomous will change the world.


How important is a virtualized core, when you are talking about IoT networks? 

A virtualized core is essential for establishing a robust IoT network. It helps decrease the time and distance of the data coming from the device to the application and reduce the processing time for algorithms that will support those applications. The benefit of a virtualized core is that it enables IoT networks to support specific security, privacy, and latency needs. This in turn allows for flexibility across all types of customers, including those who have very demanding network needs or operate in hard-to-reach areas. These mission critical use cases include demanding applications such as artificial intelligence, edge computing, robotics, and autonomous vehicles. 


What predictions do you have for the industry over the next 12-18 months? 

Software is powering use cases such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous. It’s ultimately moving towards the combination of video sensing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning in the cloud. This means that devices, robots, cars will become so clever that they almost become humanlike. For instance, once a camera sensor with AI integrated into it has seen something it will no longer be able to erase it from its memory.  

That being said, I understand there is a fear factor when the topic of AI comes up. People often question what happens when things begin to think on their own or how we can control what they think. As an industry, we need to continue to be conscious by taking a disciplined approach towards security and privacy. Fundamentally AI will make things possible, will close the digital divide, and bring us forward as a society.