The 5G rollout in the U.S. is underway. Verizon offers 5G service in cities including Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Washington, D.C. and plans to continue providing 5G service to new locations in 2019
. AT&T now provides 5G to select customers in 21 cities and plans to have nationwide coverage by early 2020
. Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular have also launched 5G this year.
With the introduction of 5G service, you’ll have the advantages of faster speeds, lower latency, and the capacity to support more devices, including IoT sensors. 5G also enables connections between distributed cloud networks in different geographic regions.
But for users to experience those benefits, 5G service is only a part of the solution. Multi-access edge computing (MEC) architecture, using the radio access network (RAN), the cloud, and edge computing, enables the convergence of communication and computing to achieve 5G objectives fully.
Edge computing takes computing closer to application and users or acts as a “mini-data center” at the edge, reducing latency and increasing speed to as much as 10 Gb/s. Through edge computing, MEC relieves some demand created by a growing number of sensors and devices connected to the network, minimizing the risk of bottlenecks and outages. Edge computing can also decrease costs for data transmission, which will benefit both the user and the service provider. Frequently streamed content can be cached on a MEC server for further speed enhancement and cost savings. Ultimately, MEC and 5G produce a higher quality of service and better experiences for users.
Emerging Technology Adoption Will Skyrocket with MEC and 5G
Limited network capabilities — and their costs — have slowed adoption of several promising technologies but 5G-MEC solutions will remove roadblocks for solutions based on:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
System developers can utilize multi-access edge computing to deliver real-time analytics. This capability can improve performance and expand the capabilities of current AI applications, such as enhancing voice-activated virtual assistants with contextual awareness.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT systems are challenged by the need for numerous sensors and devices to be connected to a network. Ericsson estimates the number of cellular IoT connections will grow to 3.5 billion by 2023
. A solution based on MEC and 5G will expand the number of devices that an IoT system can effectively use while also making the best use of resources. 5G will also enable currently disconnected IoT systems to communicate with each other. For example, a manufacturer’s IoT environment could communicate with its supply chain’s system or a healthcare organization could connect with multiple hospitals or provider practices — even if they’re located thousands of miles away from each other.
Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR)
VR and AR devices must access and manage massive volumes of data. Systems leveraging 5G and MEC architecture can provide those capabilities through a combination of greater capacity and speed and edge computing capabilities. Powered by 5G and MEC, VR and AR could go mainstream to enable use cases such as virtual tourism, visualization during online shopping, remote surgeries, industrial equipment maintenance, and immersive gaming.
Be Prepared for the 5G Revolution
Even though 5G availability will take time to roll-out, you can have the benefits of MEC today.
, the organization that maintains the industry standard for MEC, says the open architecture allows organizations to make their RAN accessible to third parties so they can deploy new applications and services. On its own, MEC allows organizations to use — or to offer — video analytics, location services, and optimized local content distribution to build new revenue streams or find opportunities for innovation. MEC will also enable organizations to establish IoT or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems and support enterprise IT environments.
Besides, creating a future-proof, edge computing system that includes the RAN today, MEC will position organizations to receive immediate benefits of 5G when it’s available. Ensure your business understands and can help customers take advantage of the competitive advantages of faster 5G speeds, higher capacity, and greater efficiency as soon as possible.
For more info on 5G and MEC, download
our solutions brief for 5G outdoor small cell and AI/machine learning applications.