Communication Networks for Industry 4.0

Author: ZackW
Date: January 13,2022

As noted in the previous post in this series, private 5G is rapidly emerging as the ideal communications technology to connect Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices used to produce products and deliver services to the edge cloud and, ultimately, the public cloud, in Industry 4.0 implementations. This post examines the requirements for an Industry 4.0 communications network and compares private 5G’s ability to meet those requirements to Wi-Fi’s and private 4G/LTE’s.

Industry 4.0 Communication Requirements

Requirements for Industry 4.0 communication networks include:

Comparing Private 5G Versus Private 4G/LTE and Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE networks can’t fully meet the requirements noted in the previous section for Industry 4.0; a more robust and higher performing networking technology is required. 

Private 5G, initially implemented in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum and similar frequency bands in Europe and elsewhere, will meet the technical requirements that enable unique Industry 4.0 use cases. 5G is up to 100 times faster than 4G/LTE, with a small fraction of the latency and enhanced security capabilities. 

Compared to Wi-Fi, 5G offers higher reliability, more extensive coverage and superior mobility. It eliminates the drawbacks of Wi-Fi’s contention-based system, where every additional connected device threatens to reduce overall network performance, by implementing a highly orchestrated and coordinated system that can be scaled to accommodate millions of devices. 

See Figure 1, below, for a detailed comparison of private 5G versus private 4G/LTE and Wi-Fi. 

Wi-Fi 6Private 4G/LTEPrivate 5G
  • Office environments
  • Homes
  • Vehicles
  • Shopping malls
  • Transportation hubs
All environments including environments such as mines and construction sites where public LTE networks do not existAll environments including industrial environments
SpeedUp to 9.6 GbpsUp to 1 Gbps in best cases, down to narrowband IIoT (very low speed)10-20 Gbps
Latency and Reliability>100 ms, may not be able to guarantee latency with high reliability as load increases40-50 ms when managed privately using LTE-MUltra reliable, low latency communications (URLLC):
  • Sub-millisecond latency when managed privately
  • 99.999% (five nines) reliability
SecurityWide variety of mechanisms from weak to strong. Strong security mechanisms in standards. Enhanced user/device and network security compared to 4G/LTE, providing very strong security
MobilityDesigned primarily for fixed locationsRoaming from private to public LTE networks. Capable of handover at high speed (350 kph relative speed).Roaming from private to public 5G networks. Capable of handover at high speed (500 kph relative speed).
DensityMaximum 512 connections per access point radio100,000 connections per square kilometer. Enterprises can configure uplink and downlink and set usage policies.1,000,000 connections per square kilometer. Enterprises can configure uplink and downlink and set usage policies.
Location ServicesMeter-level accuracy using Wi-Fi Location. Indoor only.50 meter accuracy10 centimeters
Network SlicingCan be approximated using virtual LANs (VLANs) and Quality of Service (QoS). Downlink only. Implementation may be vendor-specific.Proprietary, available as a software upgrade from some vendors.Specified in standards.
Frequency Ranges2.4 and 5 GHz, extending to 1 GHz and 6 GHzLicensed and unlicensed spectrum including CBRS (3.5 GHz) in the U.S. and 5 GHzLicensed and unlicensed spectrum, 600 MHz to mm wave (24-29 GHz, 37-43 GHz) including CBRS (3.5 GHz) in the U.S. and 5 GHz

Source: Deloitte, IEEE, Ananki

Figure 1: Detailed Comparison of Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE and 5G


For an overview comparison of these technologies (the TL;DR version of the figure above), see Figure 2, below.

Fig 2 Blog 2


While Wi-Fi and private 4G/LTE have, and will continue to have, their place in enterprise networks, organizations will require communications capabilities not supported by these technologies if they want to fully realize the advantages of Industry 4.0 and IIoT. Private 5G offers the complete set of communication capabilities needed to maximize the benefits of Industry 4.0 for all types of enterprises.

This post, the second in a series, is an expanded excerpt from the Ananki white paper “Enabling Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 with Private 5G”. Register to view the complete white paper. 

Further Reading

Private 5G vs Wi-Fi vs Private LTE” STL Partners

Private 5G Networks: Enterprise Untethered” Deloitte

The Disruptions of 5G on Data-Driven Technologies and Applications” IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering

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