Hype and anticipation surrounding 5G technology have been reaching a fevered pitch for the past 12-18 months, but 5th generation cellular wireless is still in its nascency. While the standards body completed the rules for standalone 5G in June 2018, few handsets supporting 5G protocols will be available before 2020. Meanwhile, fiber and telecom providers are rolling out site-to-site capabilities within metro regions to test 5G technology and replace land-based copper and fiber connections. They’re also expanding service locations with new towers and microcells to support ubiquitous coverage and increased data speeds.
But 5G is about more speeds and feeds: 5G’s immense footprint will enable a flood of new devices for IoT and AI – from sensors and video collection devices to telemetry platforms and other types of collection and reporting devices – to connect and deploy high volumes of high-density data. This new reality is driving organizations of all shapes and sizes to shift data compute and storage – as well as security, compliance, governance and more – to the edge of their networks. By processing data at the edge, as close to end users as possible, enterprises can deploy applications and workloads ranging from mission-critical data to enhanced video gaming, with reduced latency and near real-time analytics.
While not all of us need to download Fortnite in 30 seconds or less (which took about 30 hours with 3G), edge computing use cases are emerging that will change the way we do business and how we experience daily life. Read on for four use cases that are already changing – and potentially even saving – our lives:
1. Increasing safety and efficiency in transportation
The benefits of 5G in transportation go far beyond supporting self-driving cars: 5G will enable overall network deployment, improve sensor technology for virtually any car, and deliver innovations to promote safer driving, e.g., reversing the epidemic of distracted driving. And with advances in GPU-powered AI platforms and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications to enable real-time data decisions, lives will be saved.
2. Revolutionizing immersive entertainment
Fans and sports enthusiasts demand an ever-improving experience when following or participating in their favorite sports and games. 5G will help further blur the lines between the physical and digital experience to drive revenue from events like E-sports, cloud gaming and more. Low-latency, real-time computing at the edge will enable improved tracking and analysis, greater data access, and delivery of virtual and augmented reality platforms that include ultra-HD and 3D video.
3. Improving remote medicine
Delivering preventive and emergency medical care is getting more expensive and data-intensive each day: by 2020, healthcare will produce 2,314 exabytes of data. 5G will enable faster transport, broader coverage and higher quality connections for remote – and less costly – services. Further, 5G and the edge will enable broad sensor and video deployments for after-care monitoring and faster updates for critical care issues, increasing the level of care, while also making it more efficient.
4. Building the smart (and safe) city
Beyond the traffic and transportation issues faced by every growing metro area are public safety concerns, especially at large events and gatherings. 5G and edge computing are becoming indispensable to law enforcement and public services by enabling large, real-time video deployments, integration with big data, and real-time risk analysis for those on the ground.
Future possibilities abound
These use cases barely scratch the surface: this “perfect storm” of broader network, 5G platform rollouts and powerful, edge-enabled processing will continue to deliver solutions for real-world problems, as well as modern convenience.
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