For many of us, it often feels like technology changes faster than we can keep up. That smartphone you bought last year may already feel slow or is missing that new feature. Your 4k TV may look underwhelming beside an incredibly sharp 8k model. While undoubtedly impressive, these technology changes are incremental: small steps along a linear path. Once every decade or so, a fundamental shift in technology occurs. We saw it with the leap from mainframes to personal computers, the introduction of the internet, mobile phones, social networking, and cloud computing. Now, this shift is occurring again with Edge computing & 5G.
Edge computing leverages the benefits of the Cloud with its massive scale but delivers compute and process capabilities much closer to the end device, rather than from a central location. Edge computing distributes workloads to local network locations around the world. The result is significantly lower latency and more intelligent network slicing and bandwidth utilization. Sounds all very technical, doesn’t it? To put it simply, Edge computing and the ability to process data closer unleashes the potential of a myriad of new applications spanning transportation and logistics, smart cities, rural and emerging nation connectivity, and much, much more.
Like many of the fundamental technology shifts of the past, a confluence of factors is needed to go from incremental improvements to disruptor. For the Edge, this is 5G. In the early 1990’s to early 2000’s telecommunications networks rolled out capabilities to support simple messaging, limited roaming services, and early support for data and mobile internet (2G,3G). In the mid-2000s, 3.5G, and later 4G, improved IP services for voice and data enabling a richer internet experience from mobile devices, and along with the iPhone launched the app ecosystem we know today. Until now, telecommunications networks were not designed to deliver on the Edge’s promise of high bandwidth and low latency. 5G promises a 10x boost in download speeds in comparison to 4G LTE.
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