5G and Marine Data Solutions | Planning, Strategy, the Future

yacht internet marine data solutions 4G 5G
Yacht Internet underway from Marine Data Solutions

When the topic of 5G (fifth generation WiFi including broadband) arises distinguishing between the signal and the noise requires a bit of a primer on terms and current conditions. 5G exists and will become widespread- but not ubiquitous, and not all-encompassing. Marine Data Solutions continues to stay on top of 5G’s development for the best way to improve yacht Internet, and we are working today to manage 5G’s impact and benefit to yacht safety, entertainment, security, communication, and navigation. 4G will not go away, and we continue to expand our coverage- now including South America- as we plan for a 5G future.
  1.  5G relies on high-frequency and low-power transmitters and does not penetrate walls or even impact windows without degradation.
  2.  5G signals degrade rapidly over distance.
  3.  As far as health hazard goes- a properly configured high-frequency low-power 5G transmitter creates no more risk than the 5G WiFi access point in your home, the Bluetooth radio in your smartphone, or your microwave oven. We accept all those emitters gratefully for the utility and functionality they provide.
  4. At this date, there is no economic windfall for the 5G rollout. In general terms, the global broadband industry generates about $1 trillion annually. Growth is projected at about $200 billion, and annual 5G infrastructure buildout is expected to cost about $200 billion. So, no magic profit in the 5G rollout- just evolution, which takes time. 
  5. 5G is a set of standards that manufacturers and infrastructure providers agree on and use to build compliant devices. Your current 4G or 3G device cannot connect to 5G. AT&T’s “5G” needs to be in quotes as it really is an evolutionary step for 4G. So, device obsolescence and replacement are necessary. 5G devices will be backwards compatible just like your 4G phone continues to connect to 3G and 2G networks.
  6. 5G will be two things relative to Marine Data Solutions and yachts- Internet access at your yacht, home, or business over the air instead of through a cable or fiber connection; and 5G WiFi connected devices inside your yacht, home, or business.
  7. The cloud computing model sends information from the edge of the network (your smartphone or Internet-of-Things device) to a central processor. The device at the edge receives the processed information- think computer gaming for an example of this process- and sends it back. 5G has the potential to move those transactions to the edge, further speeding up the ability to communicate and process. Think autonomous vehicles communicating directly between each other for position and intent without having to transmit and receive from a central processor.
  8. Infrastructure- low latency and a high-speed connection from your phone to a 5G tower mean nothing if that tower cannot connect to the greater network. The speed to your data, voice or video communication, or entertainment will always have a slowest point determining both the speed and stability of your connection.  A blazing 5G connection does not help if the tower cannot maintain that speed to the Internet.
And the last two points lead into what we at Marine Data Solutions believe, that the first benefit of 5G, or the area that has the potential for the fastest application growth exists,is at the edge of the network, on your devices. And those devices will not just be your smartphone, but Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

5G enables IoT devices to act in concert without having to connect up to the cloud, and then back down. Instead of a security or health-monitoring sensor having to communicate with a central server and then back to the operator, the connection exists and persists in the 5G edge network. For example, our partner at Concord Marine Electronics designs, installs, configures, and maintains security and vessel monitoring systems for yachting.  A bilge alarm goes off and connects from the edge to the central server and then back to your smartphone. While the latency, or time loss, in this process may be minimal, it exists. With 5G the edge devices- the sensor and the smartphone- are on the same network.

So what’s the future of 5G and yachting? Beyond faster downloads and better streaming entertainment options, the future will include navigation, security, information, and communication systems integrated in ways we have not seen before. Your bilge alarm will not have to connect to the cloud and wait for an application from the cloud to connect to your smartphone- 5G allows the devices to communicate directly. That will not break the connection to the cloud and the data will be stored and available there for further processing if necessary. But the shortened path and the devices’ proximity, and their recognition of their proximity, will make the system faster and more responsive.

Industrial applications will probably mature more quickly than consumer devices and applications.  5G can be installed and configured in a facility and tuned for that facility, and all the device connections authorized and optimized. The profitable use case for 5G in factory automation, logistics and inventory tracking, and component location and status can be efficiently and economically implemented.  Launching and maintaining a metropolitan 5G network seamlessly handing off connections (remember the short range and signal degradation inherent in 5G) will take longer.  And, because 4G signals remain stable and fast over distances up to about a 20-mile radius, those networks will persist and improve in the consumer and wide area space.That's why we continue to expand and tune our 4G yacht Internet, expanding into new coverage areas- check our Airtime page for current service areas.

So, 5G is a buzzword, a marketing device, and technology that promises to make the Internet, and everything connected to it, faster and more efficient. New capabilities will arise. And, as we have seen, each advance brings risks to security, privacy, and functionality- all part of the price of progress and all areas that will have to be controlled during the evolution of 5G. That is why Marine Data Solutions continues to monitor 5G development. We are committed to bringing our customers the best technology available- when it is ready, safe, and secure. 

For more information visit the Marine Data Solutions website, use our Contact page, email us at info@marinedatasolutions.com, or call +1 (954) 859-7092


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