5G network usage will result in faster transmission of data, reduced latency, and improved network responsiveness, creating benefits for all end-users—a point fielded and debated much more recently. However, the debate is more on resilience than performance. 5G technology, though widely in the news, is not expected to make an overall market appearance until 2025. After the 3G network heads toward the sunset, most of the telematics market will shift toward 4G cellular network connectivity; in fact, 4G is already extensively used. The prospect of an advanced 5G connectivity technology seems far-fetched as of the current status quo. Still, in the future, fleet managers will increasingly rely on IoT, advanced sensors, and big data to manage their fleets and increase their operational efficiency, which will be heavily dependent on 5G usage. 5G will overcome significant limitations faced by fleets using 3G/4G networks, impacting fleet operational efficiency and safety. 5G networks will bring considerable advantages in operational efficiency and safety, but 5G deployment will also present a challenge due to time and financial investment needed by fleets to shift from legacy networks to 5G networks and safeguard them from cyber-attackers.

Fleet managers will benefit from the real-time data availability that can be transmitted into organization-wide performance indicators such as driver behaviors, fleet conditions, and route efficiency. Also, the fast transmission of data will translate into time, fuel, and maintenance costs savings, leading to increased operational efficiency. Sensors and data analytics will give insights into the route taken and driver behaviors such as dangerous driving, hard braking, and vehicle idling. Fleet operators with data insights can then train drivers through training and advisories on safe driving and fuel utilization. Route optimization will enable drivers and fleet operators to reduce travel time by optimizing the travel route and avoiding unnecessary trips, highway blockages and bad roads, leading to increased fuel savings and better turnaround time. Smart diagnostics with sensors and onboard computers will provide insights into the equipment maintenance schedules, wear and tear, and failure notifications.

For drivers, 5G technology usage will lead to increased use of telematics, smart sensors, route intelligence, and intelligent diagnostics. Through telematics, sensors can transmit more data faster than in the past. These sensors will help in V2V and V2X communications, allowing the vehicle to talk to other vehicles, drivers, and monitoring stations for a safe journey. With faster sensor communications, drivers can increase their collision avoidance capabilities. Some examples of collision avoidance capabilities include proximity alarms, stay in lane assists, drive assist during low visibility and blind spots, collision warnings, sending data to first responders after an accident, geo-location speed limits, and autonomous driving. Drivers will also be able to check the health of their vehicles and installed equipment. Augmented reality dashboards will identify and flag potential hazards without diverting a driver’s attention away from the road.

5G usage will also impact customers as they would get real-time information about their products during movement and even faster delivery because of increased operational efficiency.

The three main challenges for fleet operators using 3G/4G networks today are:

  • Poor end-to-end visibility
  • Fragmented data collection
  • Poor analytical insights, leading to decreased operational efficiency

The 5G network will help solve these challenges through reduced latency, resulting in increased network responsiveness, faster real-time transmission of data, and enhanced support to sensors and IoT devices. 5G will empower the freight as a service (FaaS) model, supporting on-demand capacity and service needs through dynamic route optimization.

Technology upgrades and infrastructure deployment are the primary hurdles, but security will be among the biggest challenges for 5G network utilization in fleet management. Decentralized security, increased bandwidth straining current security monitoring operational capacities, supply chain vulnerabilities of IoT devices and smart sensors, and lack of compliance in software encryption will be some of the primary cybersecurity concerns of 5G networks in fleet management. Potential attacks are varied; some examples include:

  • DoS/DDoS attack on the fleet
  • Ransomware attack
  • Remote access/taking control of the vehicle to carry out an attack (removing the most vulnerable point of a terror attack—the human)
  • 5G infrastructure failure due to a hack, leading to traffic congestion
  • Database attack that will hurt the fleet and overall transportation network of a country

Cybersecurity should be top of mind for fleet operators; it will play an essential role in keeping fleets secure and not attracting negative media attention. Cybersecurity is not central to a fleet operator’s mindset; they are (naturally) fixated on moving the assets on time and intact. Cybersecurity professionals will find avenues emerging fast in the mobility sector by working closely with the fleet operators, enhancing and ensuring their operations’ resilience with seamless digital security layers. Countermeasures include endpoint protection, implementation of secure data transfer, cloud security, 5G network hardening, investing in cybersecurity technologies, software encryption, using blockchain for confidential information, and following best practices such as educating employees on cybersecurity and plugging gaps when notified. Upgrading legacy technology across an entire fleet will be a momentous and expensive task, so fleet managers should work closely with technology vendors and security consultants to ensure smooth, secure transitions to avoid service disruptions.

5G will be expensive because of the need to create a dense network requiring a significant amount of network nodes. However, 5G allows the much faster download and upload of data with reduced network latency, creating a compendium of new real-time situational awareness solutions and enhancing operational performance and “safety.” But at what cost? Are these nice-to-have or must-have services? Can we compromise our security before securing the infrastructure? Will these remain niche services, or will a small population of fleets subscribe to 5G as it further increases the service fee?

Frost & Sullivan monitors this technology’s evolution and the leading solution providers—traditional and niche—evaluating use cases and opportunities across the value chain. For access to Global Connected Truck Outlook, click: https://store.frost.com/global-connected-truck-telematics-outlook-2020.html. Any new tech implementation requires an engaged, collaborative approach. Frost & Sullivan is engaging with various stakeholders across the value chain to identify priorities and opportunities. Securing 5G networks for the performance-enhanced future of mobility is just one application.

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