Using 5G to unlock the potential of edge computing

September 3, 2020

Edge computing has been hailed as the new frontier of networking, focusing on decentralising some of the services and data that has been pushed to the cloud. In pre-COVID times, this may have come in the form of a local data centre, which would hold data necessary to facilitate quicker communications between devices. However, as working from home becomes increasingly common, remote workers are now themselves forming ‘the edge.’

While this represents a positive step forward for businesses in their data processing and communication capabilities, not all remote workers have the technological capabilities for this at home. With the majority of home offices still relying on dial-up or other older internet connections, organisations may find it difficult to immediately turn to edge computing and full, long-term remote working.

This is especially true for organisations in with employees in rural areas, where a strong and stable internet connection may be more expensive than in urban areas or simply difficult to come by. Without last-mile connectivity, or the ability for networks to reach that crucial endpoint after the ‘last mile,’ it will be difficult for organisations to reach all of their employees.

Of course, the natural step is to turn to 5G, which is increasingly being rolled out. Cellular network coverage has increased enough in the past decade, making 5G potentially the easiest and cheapest method to support remote working. Though there will still be some time before 5G is pervasive enough to sufficiently provide support for edge computing efforts, organisations should start thinking about how these advancements could shape and benefit their business.

5G networks will not only facilitate an increase in employees working from home, but also will likely revolutionise other business processes, especially in conjunction with edge computing. Autonomous vehicles and IoT for industrial machines are just a few examples of the many use cases that will likely emerge as 5G becomes more commonplace. These technologies – which, combined, significantly lower critical communications latency periods and provide a higher level of bandwidth and connection than before – will soon unlock a whole new set of possibilities across industries.

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