According to Statista, the amount of data generated worldwide in 2010 was 2 zettabytes. That is 1 billion terabytes! By 2017, that number was up to 26 and it is estimated that by 2026, the world will be generating at least 181 zettabytes of data per year!
This affects us in mostly positive ways. By analysing large data sets, predictive models can forecast trends for businesses, provide targeted ads for consumers and give deep insights into the collective mind of people through their smart devices, purchases, customer experiences and overall digital footprint.
The challenge becomes processing this behemoth of information. That is where edge computing and 5G come into the equation. The synergy of these two technologies will help businesses and end-users by reducing network latency while providing valuable data processing capabilities. How will this happen?
What is Edge Computing?
Typical data analysis, as has been done in the past, has occurred by transmitting data from an end-user, like a store or business, sending that data to a central hub for analysis and review and returning the analyzed data to the end user with insights and actionable points explained. This process has worked great!
However, the exponential increase in amounts of data produced through people, their devices and operating systems has made the potential for latency issues too large to ignore. Imagine the rush-hour traffic everyone despises, only this traffic jam is happening online, where metaphoric truckloads of data are taking up all the space.
Edge computing removes the need for this “traffic jam” by bringing the hub where the data is analyzed closer to the end-user where the data is produced. By analyzing the data on the “edge” of their systems (on-site where the data is produced) with edge devices (specialized partial racks of computing systems) as opposed to sending it to be analyzed off-site, a myriad of benefits is created. What are these benefits and why are they connected to 5G technology?
How Do 5G and Edge Computing Work in Harmony?
5G technology, as it is fully deployed, will operate at 10-20 times the network speeds of LTE1 and 100 times that of 4G! These increases in network capabilities have extremely important ramifications for any industry that has need of faster and more robust processing capabilities. This could be manufacturing, healthcare, entertainment, artificial intelligence and virtually all other sectors.
For 5G to hit the very top end of the projections for the network capabilities, edge computing is necessary to do a large portion of the data processing as close as possible to the user that created it (ideally at the same physical location). According to a recent article from NTT “A key advantage of edge computing is its ability to work with 5G“ The advantage is thatit will free up the bandwidth and reduce congestion on the internet, which inevitably lead to lowlatency and extremely capable networks.
In short, edge computing enables the processing of massive amounts of data without transmitting it over the internet, creating the data friendly environment that drives the world today while enabling the use of ultra-low latency 5G networks.
What Does the Future of Computing Look Like?
The relationship between 5G and edge computing will pave the way for the smart cities of the future. Today, this relationship already enables data to be analyzed and utilized in real-time, enriching customer experiences, providing vital care, and making the world a better place.