Unless you’ve been on a technology break, you’ve already heard the big news: 5G isn’t just coming—it’s already here. And everything about it is game-changing, particularly its ultra-high reliability which reaches 99.999% uptime and latency of <1 millisecond.
5G brings unstoppable power and potential for countless new use cases, many of which will be dependent on Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC). Applications including autonomous factory robots, intelligent transportation systems, telemedicine, and more—the next wave of disruptive technology will emerge from wireless networks so reliable they can replace physical connections.
Have you heard how 5G will enable this new paradigm? How it can deliver a fully-connected society where every application, device, thing, and person will be armed with the power of a data center from almost any location, with nearly zero lag or downtime? At the heart of this transformation are cloudified networks, transformed to bring compute, storage, and analytics closer to the end user—intelligently accessing distributed resources for data-intensive workloads, rapid analysis, and real-time decision-making right from the edge.
Bringing Data Closer to the End User with Cloudification
With global mobile data traffic growing at a CAGR of 46 percent and expected to reach 77.5 exabytes per month by 2022—network transformation isn’t just important, it’s imperative. Purpose-built networks with fixed-function appliances (like load balancers, firewalls, and routers) just aren’t going to get us there. In fact, many of the nodes in earlier-generation networks, although engineered to accommodate peak traffic loads at all times, only used 25% to 35% of their capacity.
Cloudified networks pool workloads across many different resources and use cases, spanning silicon, software, connectivity, memory, and more to become more agile, flexible, and scalable. Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) play a critical role in creating what amounts to distributed data centers with intelligent edge technologies that can perform analytics, storage allocation, and other functions at the optimal point for data creation and delivery.
Development of these scalable, intelligent networks must and will accelerate with the commercialization of 5G and the advent of a growing number of use cases requiring ultra-reliable wireless connectivity—from mobile broadband applications like smart media, to fixed wireless access that can replace wireless connections, to mission-critical IoT for smart cities, healthcare, connected transportation, smart industrial, and more.
Enabling Edge Compute for Billions of Things & Devices
As the Phase 2 specifications for 5G New Radio near release, URLLC is a hot topic of conversation for communications service providers (CoSPs) looking for additional ways to add value to their core revenue-generating businesses. In fact, ABI Research recently published a white paper exploring the new role of 5G URLLC for CoSPs. The findings suggest that, should providers take advantage of a 5G radio network, URLLC, edge computing, and network automation/orchestration, they have an opportunity to become much more than connectivity providers—they can become platform developers and claim a place in enterprise digitization.
Not only are CoSPs seeking new paths to monetize networks, they must also contend with the growing wave of mobile data traffic from users consuming video and other high-bandwidth content while preparing for billions of sensors and connected things, which collectively will put their own strains on the network, particularly those tied to mission-critical applications. Edge computing allows data to be processed in the place where it delivers the highest value both to the customers and devices accessing it and to the network providers managing it. In doing so, it can reduce application latency, improve quality of service, optimize total cost of ownership, enable actionable insights, and more. AI-enabled servers at the edge of cloudified networks will seamlessly support applications that require high-reliability and high-throughput. For example, 3D volumetric video, ultra-responsive cloud gaming, immersive AR/VR experiences, facial recognition, and other emerging use cases.
Catapulting Nearly Every Industry Forward with the Next “Big Thing”
5G and URLLC aren’t just big news for those in the telecommunications industry. The vertical applications are already innumerable, and they’re expanding every day. For an example of what’s to come, just look to the Alibaba Car-Road Cooperation for Smart Transportation Initiative. Intel and Alibaba are exploring connected vehicle technology incorporating sensor data collection and knowledge extraction necessary for autonomous vehicles and intelligent road networks. This depends not only on the speed of 5G, but also URLLC network connectivity augmented by the flexible power of the edge using the Intel® Network Edge Virtualization Software Development Kit.
Leaps in efficiency and performance will take place across industries as 5G and network cloudification proliferate the availability of URLLC. Slashing latency from several milliseconds with 4G to less than 1 millisecond with 5G will open the potential for entirely new experiences in virtual reality media, connected infrastructure, and robots that can learn and collaborate using AI. There is also incredible potential to bring the power of 5G to safety-critical applications like driverless cars, smart factories, emergency communications, and medicine. What’s more, URLLC and distributed computing will allow networks to allocate resources to match the exact service requirements of each use case, maximizing capacity.
A shift of this size is no easy feat. It requires coordination between technology leaders with the experience, technologies, and scale to drive forward new deployments of standards-based solutions. Intel and its partners are innovating at the leading edge of 5G and beyond, convening the industry to architect the infrastructure and foundation for future generations of technology worldwide. Together, we’re accomplishing big things that will forever change the way we live and do business. And we’re just getting started.