Skyward to the Network of Things

During her CES 2019 Keynote address, Maria Scott, the CEO of Skyward (Verizon’s commercial drone subsidiary), provided critical insight into how the 5G network topology will evolve not only to drones but also a wider suite of devices and applications.  5G technology has the potential as described to create synergies between people and devices to such an extent that it’s likely that this technology will evolve from the “Internet of Things” to a much broader “Network of Things.”

In her futuristic commercial drone use case, Scott described a software-overview where edge computers would orchestrate control and coordinate the activities and flight paths of densely packed drones both in 3D space and in real-time.  With 5G’s low latency, a very sophisticated edge application would allow drones to operate as a coordinated group of thin-clients or network nodes.     

The most important implication of Scott’s vision was that the same 5G network topology she described also applies to other many other potential 5G use cases such as self-driving vehicles, robotics, financial transactions, delivery, and telemetry.  For example, local 5G networks will employ edge applications to track warehouse inventory and control robotics thus using the same topology that Scott described in her overview. 

A differentiation exists between today’s world where simple devices connect through a network and the future where centralized edge network applications will direct and coordinate devices as part of the entire network working in synergy.  The next industrial revolution is one where edge network applications connect and control “thin” network clients over 5G wireless signals.    

Strategically, the business foundation for the future of this new industrial revolution resides in the build out of dense and centralized fiber networks which then will lead into tributaries of small cells that tether control, and mesh “simple” end nodes such as drones to an applications overview.  The vision of 5G requires visionaries such as Maria Scott who have clarity of overview into what will prove to be a rich use-case driven future. 

Copyright Warren Pollock edited by Mike Botwin