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5G Technology: Fueling Innovation At The Edge

The wireless technology will fuel innovation at the edge by powering brand-new use cases, taking data collection and processing to new heights.

Solution providers say that the link between 5G and edge computing can be boiled down to one word: latency. The fifth-generation global wireless technology promises to fuel innovation at the edge by powering brand-new use case, enabling more data collection and faster processing than ever before.

“5G is going to provide more opportunities at the edge because [businesses] will have more connectivity options,” said Joel Grace, vice president of engineering and emerging technologies at Sayers, a Vernon Hills, Ill.-based solution provider specializing in a variety of IT offerings and services for customers, including edge technologies and the Internet of Things.

The network is the underpinning of edge use cases, Grace said. By pairing 5G and edge computing, different business units will be further enticed to outfit devices like smart cameras and sensors to collect more data, which will drive more compute use cases at the edge. The result? Expanding opportunities for solution providers in collecting data at the edge, Grace said.

According to research firm IDC, the worldwide edge computing market is forecast to reach approximately $250 billion in 2024 with a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent over the next four years. 5G technology is expected to act as a catalyst for that market growth.

[RELATED: The Intelligent Edge: How Smart Solution Providers Are Creating New Services Blueprints]

Like Sayers, solution provider giant Presidio believes that 5G will help further edge computing opportunities because of the latency and bandwidth improvements it will bring to the table that will aid in data capturing, according to Presidio Chief Technology Officer Vinu Thomas.

“Talk to any technologist and they’ll tell you that edge is really important—we’ve heard that from Cisco [CEO] Chuck Robbins, Amazon Web Services [CEO] Andy Jassy and VMware [CEO] Pat Gelsinger. When you look at being able to capture the data at the edge and transfer that data back to a centralized location to apply AI and then transfer it back, you need a fast backbone,” Thomas said.

Presidio, based in New York City, is aggressively going after IoT opportunities, especially in the transportation, smart cities and education spaces. Today, the edge of the network often communicates with the cloud or data center, but in emerging use cases such as connected cars, edge-to-edge communication powered by lightning-fast, low-latency technologies like 5G will need to be in place to make all of these new applications a reality, according to Thomas.

Enterprise 5G startup Celona, a one-year-old Cupertino, Calif.-based company founded by telecom and wireless veterans, believes that 5G and edge computing together will transform how enterprises will work, said Rajeev Shah, Celona co-founder and CEO.

“The same applications that are driving a need for 5G on the wireless side are also driving the need for a portion of the compute services to come closer to the enterprise,” Shah said.

Many industries right now need the same thing to power their IoT use cases: highly reliable low-latency wireless links that can power applications as quickly as possible, Shah said. “We see networking and compute really converging at the edge,” he added.

Celona burst onto the scene in November 2020 with its private LTE/5G platform that allows enterprises to build their own private cellular networks. The platform uses CBRS-based LTE wireless technology, a spectrum band that was recently made available in the U.S. by the Federal Communications Commission. The first generation of Celona’s platform lets businesses create 4G LTE private networks, with 5G slated for later in 2021 as more 5G-capable devices hit the market, according to the company.

It’s safe to say that 5G technology will begin creating new opportunities for businesses and solution providers. But as more data is captured and processing starts potentially taking place in new areas on the network, added layers of security will be required.

DataVizion, a Lincoln, Neb.-based solution provider, has been focused on managing security and working with its customers to safely implement their forward-looking IT visions, said Kelly Schrad, president and CEO. Helping customers adapt their security policies toward trends such as remote working, or even what the new wireless environment will look like—including 5G—is critical to making sure data is being protected at the edge, he added.

To DataVizion, 5G connectivity is “just another edge” that needs to be secured, Schrad said.

“We’re looking at building relationships with some of those providers that will allow companies to extend their policies into those edge networks,” he said. “We’ll be sticking to our core business—securing access.”

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