5G is Not Just the Next G and Faster

5G | Cloud | Data | Digital Evolution | Edge Computing | Technology

5G is Not Just the Next G and Faster

5G | Cloud | Data | Digital Evolution | Edge Computing | Technology

To many people, 5G will sound much like 4G did and 3G before it: well, it’s the same but faster, and we’ll all need new phones, wont’ we. That is true to a degree, but 5G is a whole lot different and in ways that will have a fundamental impact on technology services and how they’re delivered. It’s a whole new architecture; a completely different business model, that will deliver things that are impossible with today’s networks.

The fast approach of the Internet of things, autonomous vehicles, the increased appetite for high definition video, and the relentless move towards wireless as the personal connection of choice, have deep implications for networks and the way they work. For a start, we’re talking about the need to support many more devices and greater densities. A home might have hundreds of discrete devices that need to be connected. Multiply that up in an urban setting and it’s easy to see that something quite different is needed.

Autonomous vehicles are turning mapping technologies upside down with their need for much greater accuracy than is available with present maps and systems. Similarly, network connectivity must operate not just faster and more reliably, but with much less latency than can be achieved with today’s network architectures. Put simply, it can be a long way from somewhere on the mobile network to a command server, and distance takes time, even at light speeds, so that way of doing things has to go.

Vast amounts of data will be sloshing around with all of this and the insatiable appetite for video in high definition. If those data flows are not carefully managed and optimised, bottlenecks will build, and inefficiencies will bring unsustainable degradation. Lastly, energy – the kind of power requirements demanded by all this increased performance and capacity must be sustainable.

All this cannot be supported by existing communications, networks and computing architectures. Entirely new technologies must be developed and rolled out in time to cope with these developments. This is the driving force behind the convergence of Cloud, Edge Computing and Mobile Networking into an intelligent and dynamic architecture, in ways that make the whole thing inseparable. There will be no “mobile network”, it will be an intelligent, adaptable, edge driven network with a radio edge.

True Cloud is storage and computing capacity available on demand in quantities and from a location that aren’t predefined and don’t matter. The problem with the above trends is that location does matter. In order to get the x50 reduction in latency needed, and to cope with device densities x1,000 greater, and the resulting data flows, storage and compute must have two characteristics that they haven’t needed until now – the ability to be distributed close to where they’re needed, and the dynamic intelligence and agility to adapt and shift as the topography of demand changes.

If store and compute are going to have to be low latency, adaptable and distributed where they’re needed, mobile networks must become an integral part of the whole network infrastructure, which must be intelligent and able to deliver store and compute near to devices.

THIS is what 5G will do, how it is radically different from previous mobile technologies, and why 5G is something that we will all need to know something about as the future unfolds.

So Edge, where store and compute can be distributed and done near to the device requiring it, will include the infrastructure of mobile networks. The base stations for mobile antenna masts, for instance, will have intelligent store and compute that are able to accept and deliver the loading and tasks assigned to them, and adapt on the fly as demand changes.

So what does this mean today? Well, it depends what you’re doing, investing in and planning. If you’re just a smartphone user then it doesn’t mean much for now. If you’re using networks to connect to devices, your future and 5G are probably going to be intertwined before the next President arrives in the White House.

An analytics research company may not need to talk to many devices, and will be able do everything on captive hosted servers. A service delivering real time HD to a big population of mobile devices will need to have a distribution layer out at the Edge in 5G mobile networks. A service handling navigation or control in autonomous cars will need to have most of its capabilities deployed at the Edge and embedded in the mobile networks near to where each car is located.

The fusion of networks is coming, and it will be much, much more than a faster smartphone with an extra G. Yes, it will deliver extreme broadband on the move, but also critical machine communications and massive machine communications – very low latency, very high device density, large data flows, and all from an intelligent system that combines and manages Store, Compute and Communicate.

You may also be interested in our Horizon Scan video: What Networks are Doing to the Future of Cloud.

Peter Osborn, Founder and Chairman, Flexiion MSP



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