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Exploring 5G IoT Connectivity: The Potential of 5G RedCap

5G RedCap
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5G RedCap (Reduced Capability) is a variant of the 5G network tailored for IoT devices needing lower processing power and battery life compared to smartphones and computers.

It is part of the 3GPP and New Radio (NR) standards which are crucial for ensuring compatibility and therefore crucial for ensuring global IoT connectivity for IoT solutions and in this case, RedCap NR devices.

This version of 5G is less demanding to accommodate the unique requirements of these devices. Key variances and benefitsfrom standard high bandwidth 5G mobile broadband standards and modes include:

1. Lower Device Complexity:

5G RedCap is specifically created for devices with limited processing capabilities, making it simpler compared to regular 5G and therefore better suited for IoT devices. It is suited to wireless sensors used in massive IoT or industrial sensor applications whose device capabilities do not require the peak data rate or low latency available in standard 5G.

2. Enhanced Battery Life:

5G RedCap is designed to use less energy than high bandwidth 5G, potentially boosting the longevity of IoT device batteries.

3. Better Coverage:

5G RedCap devices have an extended signal reach when compared to regular 5G devices, making them preferable for rural or isolated areas with limited network coverage.

4. Lower Speed:

As IoT devices usually don’t require fast data transmission, 5G RedCap provides slower data speeds than regular 5G.

5. Cost-Effective:

5G RedCap devices are simpler, so cheaper to manufacture, making IoT devices more affordable and widely available.

In summary, regular 5G is designed for fast data and low delay, but 5G RedCap is designed for devices not requiring such high performance. It’s about tailoring network services to suit each device’s needs.

How does 5G RedCap achieve longer & wide range signal?

Longer signal range is achieved through several key features:

1. Low Frequency Bands: 

RedCap utilises low frequency bands which have a greater range and better penetration capabilities than the higher frequency bands used by standard 5G.

2. Lower Data Rate:

RedCap is designed for applications that do not require high data rates. This allows for a more efficient use of the spectrum and extends the coverage area.

3. Improved Power Efficiency:

RedCap devices are designed to consume less power, which helps extend the battery life of devices and thus increases the effective coverage.

4. Advanced Antenna Techniques:

RedCap uses advanced antenna techniques such as beamforming to focus the signal in a specific direction, increasing the range and improving the signal quality.

5. Network Slicing: 

This allows for more efficient use of resources by creating separate virtual networks within the same physical network infrastructure. Each ‘slice’ can be optimised for different types of service, allowing for better coverage and capacity.

How does 5G network RedCap capability help IoT device design?

5G RedCap devices built with redcap modem modules utilise resources more efficiently by using bandwidth optimally.

Unlike regular 5G devices that need a lot of bandwidth for fast data transmission, RedCap devices are ideal for tasks that don’t require high data rates, such as sending sensor data or commands to IoT devices. This allows RedCap devices to work effectively with less bandwidth.

RedCap devices can also decrease network congestion and utilise bandwidth more efficiently, improving network performance and potentially saving costs by requiring less infrastructure (which is attractive to network operators).

5G RedCap device, therefore, tend to be more affordable due to several factors:

1. Lower complexity:

RedCap devices are simpler than regular 5G devices as they are made for IoT devices that do not need as much processing power as smartphones. This decreased complexity can result in lower production costs.

2. Lower power consumption:

RedCap devices are created with the aim of consuming less energy, leading to extended battery longevity. This allows for the use of more affordable materials while maintaining or enhancing performance.

3. Optimised resources:

5G RedCap is created for more efficient resource usage, which can lead to cost savings. It has a narrower bandwidth compared to regular 5G, making it a more economical option for operations.

4. Economies of scale:

As the popularity of IoT devices rises, higher production levels can result in reduced costs per item. At the moment, 5G RedCap, does not have extensive coverage, availability and therefore does not benefit from economies of scale in manufacture.

As 5G technologies and RedCap become more mainstream in IoT, this will clearly change and manufacturers will begin to adopt the standards and respond to customer demand.

RedCap modem technologies, RedCap chipsets and RedCap IoT modules will become more available and integrated into devices and network infrastructures. This will affect and reduce device cost and make it more comparable with existing mobile infrastructure technologies.

5. Lower data rates:

As RedCap is intended for devices that do not need to quickly send large amounts of data, it can function at lower data rates. This also aids in cutting costs, as higher data rates usually entail pricier components and infrastructure.

In summary, the design of 5G RedCap is tailored to the specific needs of IoT devices, which can help to make these devices more cost-effective and energy efficient than high bandwidth 5G IoT devices.

RedCap use cases: which IoT use cases & applications is RedCap capability suited to?

5G RedCap devices are ideal for IoT tasks that require sending small data amounts over extended periods. Some examples include:

1. Environmental Monitoring:

RedCap devices can be used in sensors that collect data on weather conditions, air quality, or water quality. These sensors typically only need to send small updates at regular intervals, so they don’t require high data rates.

2. Asset Tracking:

RedCap can be used in devices that track the location of assets, such as vehicles or equipment. These tracking devices usually only need to send small amounts of data, such as GPS coordinates, at regular intervals.

3. Smart Metering:

RedCap is also suitable for smart meters that monitor utilities like gas, water, or electricity usage. These meters only need to send usage data periodically, which doesn’t require high data rates.

4. Agricultural Technology:

In agriculture, RedCap devices can be used in systems that monitor soil moisture, temperature, or other conditions. These systems typically send small amounts of data at regular intervals.

5. Infrastructure Monitoring:

RedCap can also be used in systems that monitor the condition of infrastructure such as bridges or buildings. These systems typically involve sensors that send status updates or alerts, which don’t require high data rates.

In each of these cases, the primary function of the RedCap device is to send small amounts of data reliably over long periods of time, rather than to transmit large amounts of data quickly. As such, they’re well-suited to tasks that don’t require high data rates.

A potential example of the use of 5G RedCap devices in IoT: Asset Tracking:

As an example of potential use cases of 5G RedCap, we can consider a popular application of IoT that uses battery power and low data. For asset tracking, IoT devices typically need to transmit the following types of data:

1. Location Data:

This is the most common type of data transmitted for asset tracking. The device uses GPS or another form of geolocation to determine its location, and then sends this data to a central server or system. This allows the asset’s location to be tracked in real time.

2. Status Updates:

Apart from location, RedCap devices can also transmit information about the status of the asset. This could include data about the asset’s condition, such as whether it’s in use, whether it’s moving or stationary, or whether it’s in need of maintenance.

3. Sensor Data:

Some RedCap devices in asset tracking systems may also be equipped with sensors that can monitor environmental conditions, such as temperature or humidity. This can be important for assets that are sensitive to environmental conditions, like certain types of equipment or perishable goods.

4. Identification Information:

RedCap devices may also transmit data that identifies the asset. This could include a serial number, a barcode, or other unique identifiers that can be used to distinguish the asset from others.

These types of data typically don’t require high data rates to transmit, making RedCap devices a good fit for asset tracking applications.


5G RedCap offers a way of future proofing the application of IoT applications within the standards framework of 5G. 4G and LTE technologies will remain for some considerable time, so the imperative for 5G RedCap is not imminent.

It is important, however, for network providers, IoT device manufacturers and IoT service providers to plan for the future evolution of networks and device design. 5G RedCap, recognises the importance of a whole range of IoT applications and device types and caters for them within the 5G standards.