5G and Edge Computing – so what?

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The rollout of wireless 5G telecommunications networks, and the emergence of advanced, high capacity edge computing, will become a driver for a flood of new business opportunities and models. Thus, manufacturers, electronics producers, service providers, governments, and more, should already now take the technologies into consideration when re-evaluating their business and product strategies.

In the Nordics, 5G will be generally available in 2021–2022 in all major cities and regions, although local tests are already running in all countries. By 2023 all countries expect to have almost 100% nationwide coverage.

A wide range of use-cases

The ability with 5G to easily deploy sensors, actuators, smart devices, robots everywhere combined with no/low latency compute capabilities provides a wealth of new opportunities, previously being relatively costly to establish.

5G and edge computing support new use-cases, such as:

  • Pervasive video on dense areas (flawless mobile video communication and high-quality video streaming)
  • High user mobility (passenger compute access in high-speed trains)
  • Massive internet of things and sensor networks (manufacturing floor operations – ‘lights-out-manufacturing’)
  • Extreme real-time multi-modal communication (like real-time augmented reality for MRO workers)
  • Tactile internet (sensing/feeling feedback)
  • Ultra-reliable communication (for instance e-health services – remote surgery)
  • Real-time management of robots, autonomous vehicles, etc.

Whether you’re a manufacturer grappling with the potential cost of outages in a production line, a retailer trying to mitigate profit-sensitive issues like spillage and spoilage, or an automaker trying to improve driver experiences and safety, edge computing can help address these and other business-critical use cases.

Edge computing combined with 5G creates opportunities to enhance digital experiences, improve performance and data security, and enable continuous operations in every industry. Edge brings computation and data storage closer to where data is created by people, places, and things. By 2022, 50% of enterprise data will be processed at the edge, compared to only 10% today.

DID YOU READ: IBM Supercomputer Summit Attacks Coronavirus…

What Edge Computing is about

Edge computing refers to the delivery of computing capabilities to the logical extremes of a network in order to improve the performance, operating cost, and reliability of applications and services. By shortening the distance between devices and the cloud resources that serve them, and also reducing network hops, edge computing mitigates the latency and bandwidth constraints of today’s internet, ushering in new classes of applications.

In practical terms, this means you can distribute new resources and software stacks (for instance continuously updated ML models for monitoring machinery in remote locations) along the path between today’s centralized data centers and the increasingly large number of devices in the field that is concentrated and in close proximity to the last-mile network, on both the infrastructure and device sides.

What is 5G?

5G is the next evolution in wireless and mobile communications driving enhanced services for enterprises and telcos, from the consumer through to IoT and sensors, due to the proliferation of lower latency, higher bandwidth, improved privacy and security features and the ability to connect to a larger number of devices.

Taken together, 5G and edge computing will provide optimized connectivity and compute distribution. In addition, workloads can be placed at the most sensible point along the network, with 5G mobile connectivity (super speed, low latency) at the edge.

Enterprise and telcos must now look to modernize their networks to be better positioned to capture these new opportunities.

So what – should you care about 5G and edge computing?

Yes – the convergence of 5G and edge computing will spark a level of innovation that will fundamentally change how work gets done and how businesses operate. The adoption of an open hybrid multicloud architecture (IBM Edge Application Manager running on Red Hat OpenShift) will ensure you can deliver new connected experiences with data regardless of whether it’s running in a centralized on-premises, public or private cloud data center to the network core out to the edge.

You can start by asking yourself these key questions:

  • Are you looking to (a) drive innovation, (b) reduce operational expenses, unplanned maintenance, and avoid production quality issues, and (c) mitigate worker and public safety threats?
  • Do you want/need to manage a large number of edge devices?
  • Do you want to have automation in your remote locations with automatic updates/deployments (edge server)?
  • Are you considering how to turn data into insights and actions, accelerating Industry 4.0 and Connected Experiences?

If you would like to know more about 5G and edge computing, feel free to contact me at

Also, I will highly recommend the following resources:

Press release: IBM and Red Hat Launch New Edge Computing Solutions for the 5G Era
IBM Institute for Business Value studies: How 5G can spark an electronics revolution & Telecom’s 5G future
IBM Solutions and services for 5G and edge computing: Click here

Finally, at our virtual THINK conference last week, we had a number of excellent and inspiring sessions with customers and partners talking about their 5G & edge strategies and experiences. Check them out here (search for 5G and EDGE).

Research & Innovation Executive, IBM Research - IBM Watson

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