5G is currently a hot topic – and we’re not talking about burning mobile towers. To depict the scope, Nokia’s CEO, Rajeev Suri, compared the new technology to the invention of… the wheel. Or electricity.
Briefly speaking, 5G is not just another boring order-of-magnitude-increment in mobile data speed – it’s a game-changer across countless industries.
However, there’s a catch. To harness all the new opportunities, Mobile Network Operators will have to team up with Software Vendors and Cloud Infrastructure Providers. In this article, we’ll analyse the areas in which such cooperation is essential.
But First… Why Is 5G So Ground-Breaking?
Before we take a look at the key enablers, let’s specify what the main strengths of the new technology are.
1. Raw Speed
5G can be up to 100 times faster than its predecessor by leveraging super-high-frequency airwaves. To counter range and penetration limits of such waves, a massive number of much smaller cells is deployed across the network. This introduces new possibilities in streaming and uploading.
Previously, sending a packet of data was sometimes delayed even by 100 milliseconds (ms) or more. 5G minimalises this to just a few ms. Reduced latency especially helps applications that rely on backend services and need fast reactions – for example, apps running on small devices and leveraging complex machine learning models. This also closes the gap between conventional internet (cable) and mobile data.
4G was designed for a few thousand mobile devices per square kilometre. 5G is capable of handling up to a million devices in such an area. Currently, the number of smart devices increases quickly. And not only smartphones. Now we have smartwatches, fridges, car assistants and even… intelligent vacuum cleaners. Higher capacity is crucial to improve their efficiency.
The above is only a glance at some core improvements. 5G means not only network access but also a whole ecosystem of services.
Now, let’s analyse some of the most beneficial areas of 5G utilization.
Estimations show that the current global data volume surpasses tens of Zettabytes (that’s 10^22!). And it continues to grow fast. With the changing technological landscape, an increasing percentage of this data is flowing through mobile networks. That’s were 5G makes a difference.
From a consumer perspective, 5G enables to stream movies in 4K or 8K with no interruptions or to download a 20 GB game in mere seconds.
As mentioned, there’re many millions of various devices in use, each with sensors capable of producing live data on the environment. So, from an industrial perspective, 5G makes it possible to process, transport, deliver and ingest this data efficiently.
Understanding data is crucial to gain market advantage. There are plenty of possible algorithms – for example, to plan or optimise the core mobile network, understand which song a user wants to listen to or to avoid driving an autonomous car into a tree.
Big Data delivers insights that can be leveraged for these areas. Machine Learning (ML) is an excellent set of tools to find meaning in this endless data stream in an automated way. But, what’s important to emphasise, optimising ML solutions is challenging – there are no silver bullet algorithms.
Latency improvement of air interface is useful. But there’s more. Currently, data travelling across the Atlantic Ocean isn’t especially quick. Even an underwater cable can’t cheat the speed of light. A round trip will still take close to 100 ms.
Luckily, there’s a way around it – shortening the distance by moving the required backend closer to the device. That’s where Edge Computing comes in.
5G comes with build-in support for edge servers. Cloud providers are starting to offer specialised products to reach from the other end (like AWS Wavelength or Outpost). Software houses can deliver a solution to bridge those efficiently.
With the rapid evolution of telco ecosystem and customer needs, IT systems need to follow. The Cloud offers excellent solutions in the mentioned areas of Big Data, Machine Learning, and Edge Computing.
But there’s more. The benefits of abstraction, nearly unlimited resources and scalability, increased availability, recovery, flexibility, insight, control, standardisation, control, and performance. The profits come from the economy of scale, less pain with maintenance, security, compliance, global presence, and reduced time to market.
Today, the Cloud is the new normal. Harnessing 5G is an excellent trigger to migrate for companies that are used to operate their on-premise infrastructure.
What’s The Next Step?
5G offers an enormous catalogue of possibilities – but accessing it will often require a mindset shift. One of these shifts involves embracing a new kind of partnerships. Software houses now became natural allies of any company that needs rapid IT changes of unprecedented scale and direction.
Excellence in bringing together business and cloud providers via well-crafted software and tailored solutions has never been in greater demand.