Why a 5G Future (and Beyond) Depends on the Telco Edge

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It’s difficult to say whether it’s the expectations of 5G or the implications of 5G creating the greatest buzz in the data center market right now. Ultimately, the network will transform the world. The first step in this transformation is dependent upon telcos adapting to support the skyrocketing demand for connectivity and capacity. In fact, 5G will fail without this edge connectivity and not-yet-imagined applications won’t come to be.

The Call for Connectivity

Almost all major carriers have announced 5G rollouts or trials. The GSMA estimates that 5G could account for as many as 1.2 billion connections by 2025 — a profound impact on both the mobile industry and its customers.

woman holding a smart phone outsideEven before that, Cisco says that by 2020 video could account for 90 percent of internet traffic. This insatiable demand for content streaming is driving investments in fiber to increase bandwidth. Cloud adoption, mobile communication, and big data analytics are also creating the need for high-capacity and low-latency.

What’s more, investments in cloud-based RAN (C-RAN) are increasing as wireless network operators continue to virtualize. C-RAN offers many advantages such as efficiency, scale, and higher utilization of assets while allowing for more flexibility in resiliency and redundancy of the infrastructure.

Emerging Telco Edge

In response to these changes and more, the telco edge is emerging as the new frontier pushing technology and digital innovation forward. Carriers delivering 5G service will require new software and more infrastructure, including small cells and multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) sites. 5G will also bring a wide range of devices that will have new radio capabilities.

The edge will play a key role in unlocking 5G’s speed and low latency in a wide variety of applications. Autonomous vehicles, for instance, will require proximate processing power. They will be generating data, which will also come from external sensors monitoring traffic, road conditions and weather in real-time. In this case, the edge may be as close as every 1,000 feet and/or be the car or device itself.

Think about the changing dynamics of the cloud-client relationship. The fat cloud-thin client model renders a cell phone in airplane mode fairly useless. But edge applications like autonomous vehicles will need to be supported by a thin cloud – fat client model in order to fully function 100 percent of the time regardless of whether they are connected to the cloud or not. The car simply cannot perform like smartphones if it’s going to be autonomous.

Beyond 5G for the Data Center Market

Telco operators that are driving edge computing are on the forefront of the next IT revolution, but they must also look beyond 5G and continuously evolve their business models. It’s critical to plan, engineer and anticipate future change.

Leading companies are already doing this by converting their open central office space into regional edge data centers. This new business model will provide new revenue streams and deliver better service by reducing latency and lowering transmission costs.

To reach their full potential, many emerging technologies will require an advanced network infrastructure that can support complex data processing, storage and transport. Those providing it are helping to transform the way we live and work.

Learn more about how we are enabling the digital world by equipping the telco edge, watch the video.

Editor’s Note: This blog was adapted from a story previously published by RCR Wireless.

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