Understanding the Relationship Between 5G and Edge Computing

    The momentum to take compute and data closer to the edge is increasing. However, today’s data explosion and evolution of end devices raise the need for network infrastructure that can support massive data volumes and increasingly sophisticated edge devices. A combination of 5G and edge computing promises to satisfy these needs.

    5G and Edge Computing

    5G and edge computing are technologies that can capitalize on a symbiotic relationship to empower a new generation of smart devices and applications. Through its increased performance, 5G can enhance edge computing applications by reducing latency, bettering application response times, and improving the ability of enterprises to collect and process data.

    The number of edge devices increases every day, with their capabilities continuously evolving. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are also becoming more sophisticated, as they can collect more types of data. The data generated by these devices fuels the need for actionable insights to help enterprises stay atop of trends, forecast new products and services, and create a competitive advantage.

    Human beings generate more than 2.5 exabytes of data daily. Imagine remotely sending approximately 1.7 megabytes per second for each person on earth to be processed centrally.

    This would result in strained network resources, which yields performance degradation due to latency, roundtrip delays, and poor use of bandwidth. This data deluge, the struggles of moving it, and the inefficiencies of remote data processing reinforce the need for 5G and edge computing to be leveraged together.

    Additionally, more responsibility is being placed on edge devices as the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a shift to traditional workforce patterns. And with the ever-increasing quality of edge computing use cases and the data requirements these implementations have, a shorter control loop is necessary to satisfy the need for near real-time responsiveness.

    As such, 5G is a network infrastructure that can support and enable the increasing complexity and specialization of edge computing.

    Also read: Best Enterprise 5G Network Providers 2022

    Benefits of the Relationship Between 5G and Edge Computing

    Ultra-low latency use cases

    Combining 5G and edge computing is critical in attaining ultra-low latency in various edge devices and use cases.

    Considering the increasing need for high reliability and ultra-low latency communications for use cases in smart factories, healthcare, intelligent transportation, smart grids, and entertainment and media among others, pairing 5G and edge computing enables such ultra-low latency applications to reach their full effectiveness.

    Near real-time performance

    Leveraging the combination of 5G and edge computing helps enterprises collect and process massive volumes of real-time data to optimize various operational systems and improve productivity and customer experiences. Enterprises can process and analyze data in the environments that yield the most value.

    Carrying out processing and analysis close to where data was created brings enterprises close to near real-time performance for mission-critical applications.

    Improved bandwidth usage

    The relationship between 5G and edge computing impacts the success of 5G network technology. Edge computing helps ensure 5G is feasible when dealing with millions of devices connected to a 5G network.

    In the absence of edge computing, all these devices would be transmitting data directly to the cloud. This would, in turn, push the bandwidth requirement for transmission to the cloud to an overwhelming level and counter the effectiveness of a 5G network.

    Advancement of emerging technologies

    High-speed connectivity coupled with data processing at the edge is critical for the advancement of technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). The advancement of these technologies is important, as they have the potential to revolutionize entire industries and enable boundless innovation as entirely new applications are made feasible.

    Specifically, by moving compute closer to data, 5G and edge computing improve the ability to innovate, as this opens up the ability to infuse AI and machine learning into edge solutions, which opens up new possibilities for use cases and business models. It also opens up the possibilities for IoT solutions.

    The pairing of 5G and edge computing and their impact on AI, ML, and IoT makes smart cities more feasible and provides a foundation to innovate further as compute and network challenges are minimized.

    Another example of an area where limited deployment has the potential to be erased by 5G and edge computing is telemedicine. Industrial automation also stands to benefit from much more effective and creative solutions. Manufacturing could finally realize a truly intelligent and integrated supply chain to improve efficiency.

    Also read: 5G and AI: Ushering in New Tech Innovation

    Potential Drawbacks

    • Greater attack surface: As 5G edge use cases become more ubiquitous, the attack surface becomes larger. This is seen as worthwhile to threat actors, as the likelihood of a successful attack is increased.
    • Complexity: Enterprises may be drawn to the use cases of the technologies but fail to grasp the regulatory requirements; financial implications; and potential technical issues, such as massive scale, rate of change, and variability.
    • Modular Ecosystem: The connectivity ecosystem proves to be challenging to navigate due to its increasingly modular nature. As such, there are many solutions to consider with different costs and varying levels of performance and control.

    Enterprise Use Cases

    Augmented reality and virtual reality

    Enterprise consumers can enjoy more immersive real-time collaboration, as employees in different locations can collaborate on and manipulate the same virtual objects. Smart glasses can also help revolutionize maintenance, repairs, and operations as well as relay instructions to employees using AR to help them correctly carry out tasks.

    AR and VR headsets can be used to train new employees. They can learn how to carry out various roles and tasks with minimal errors. 5G edge enables AR and VR in sales and marketing, allowing prospective clients to enjoy immersive virtual previews of products and services. For example, users can enjoy virtual tours of real-world properties or locations as well as virtually try out fashion and cosmetic products.


    Edge computing and 5G combine to improve oil and gas, food and beverage, and consumer goods manufacturing. Edge computing can be implemented at distribution and remote pumping sites. These sites can be connected to a main autonomous system using 5G. Infrastructure can also be upgraded to ensure these sites can handle 5G data requirements.

    Another edge computing and 5G deployment involves monitoring environmental controls of food and beverage items in transit to maintain the quality of perishable products. Centralized production analytics can be replaced with distributed edge systems in consumer goods manufacturing. These edge systems can use a private network to connect to supply partners.

    Moving Forward with 5G and Edge Computing

    Enterprises can start by understanding the value and implications of 5G and edge computing from a technological as well as business perspective. They can then identify challenges or opportunities that 5G and edge computing can help them overcome or capitalize on.

    At this point, developing a 5G and edge computing strategy will help ensure the intended use cases are aligned not only with the enterprise but also with the technologies. This also helps the enterprises to effectively implement use cases and make sure the technology is naturally evolving with the implementation.

    Read next: Edge AI: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Edge Computing

    Collins Ayuya
    Collins Ayuya
    Collins Ayuya is pursuing his Master's in Computer Science and is passionate about technology. He loves sharing his experience in Artificial Intelligence, Telecommunications, IT, and emerging technologies through his writing. He is passionate about startups, innovation, new technology, and developing new products as he is also a startup founder. Collins enjoys doing pencil and graphite art and is also a sportsman, and gamer during his downtime.

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