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Edge and 5G: Making Smart Cities and “Faster Everything” Possible

Martin T. Olsen •

We hear a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT), the edge of the network, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), but public perception almost certainly lags behind the real progress in all of these areas. 

Consider some of the real-world applications changing our world every day: Interactive mobile navigation apps, like Waze and Google Maps, steer people through their commutes and help them avoid traffic jams, potholes and police along the way. Smart irrigation controllers that detect water leaks are helping reduce water consumption in drought-stricken environments. And innovative, IT-enabled lampposts that double as data intelligence networks are improving transportation, traffic and pedestrian safety. 

Soon-to-be-launched 5G networks, hybrid IT, integrated systems, and edge computing are pushing compute resources closer than ever to the end user and driving numerous new business models, services, innovation, and applications. These IT resources at the edge and a plethora of new mobile devices (even smarter phones, tablets, wearables, connected devices, smarter cars/transportation, etc.) are the building blocks for an imminent wave of smart cities and increasingly smart technology for use cases such as digital healthcare, smart security, autonomous vehicles and other futuristic but achievable applications. 

4G and 4G LTE jump-started this digital landscape, but 5G will catapult us to another level. The challenge the industry faces as it enters the 5G era is identifying the use cases best suited to benefit from 5G and with the potential to generate incremental revenue from 5G that can be used to support future deployments. 

Last year, after evaluating more than 100 current and emerging edge use cases, we identified four edge archetypes, each characterized primarily by their bandwidth and latency requirements—feature sets that can be addressed by 5G. Those archetypes and some emerging uses are:

  • Data Intensive – high definition content, virtual reality and Smart Cities
  • Machine-to-Machine Latency Sensitive – Smart Security, Smart Grid and defense force simulation
  • Human-Latency Sensitive – augmented reality, Smart Retail and Natural Language Processing
  • Life Critical – digital health, autonomous cars and Smart Transportation

As a next step, we used those edge archetypes to evaluate both the technical and business impact of 5G on the various edge use cases and shed light on those with the greatest potential to support early deployment of 5G technology. The result of that research is a new white paper: Turning on 5G: Using Edge Archetypes to Identify the Most Mature Cases

I encourage you to read the paper, but the bottom line is this: While virtually all edge use cases ultimately will benefit from 5G, a much smaller subset has the current level of maturity, potential for incremental revenue and data requirements that make them well suited to support deployments of 5G technology. That knowledge should help telco providers prioritize 5G rollouts and organizations prepare for 5G networks. 

How is your organization preparing for 5G? We would love to hear from you. Visit us in Barcelona February 25-28 at Mobile World Congress or, if you can’t make it, check out our new white paper.


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