With the mass adoption, 4G has witnessed over the last decade, we’ve leapt significantly far ahead on the road to true information access. Consequently, sectors such as cloud computing have blossomed. But as our data handling and analytics capabilities evolve and grow, our appetite for higher speeds expands in tandem. 5G is poised to bring in just what is needed.
What is 5G?
Unsurprisingly, 5G is set to provide substantial speed increases over existing 4G networks. While 4G can deliver peak speeds of 10-20 megabytes per second, 5G is about 100-200 times faster – that’s more than 20 gigabytes per second.
Perhaps more impressive is 5G’s low latency rate (the delay between sending and receiving information). On 4G, latency rates average about 100-200 milliseconds. This has served us well so far with our current technologies – human reaction time, after all, is about 200-300 milliseconds. But as the markets brace themselves for the next generation of high-impact tech – such as driverless cars, or long distance medical procedures, we need to do better. 5G will bring this time down to less than 1 millisecond – almost real-time. The implications are broad and significant – tech on 5G could replace real-time interactions, implying that we can interact with people or objects controlled by someone sitting on the other side of the world, with no time lag on either side.
Expected Effects on Cloud Computing
There are two opposing scenarios in the debate on the impact 5G technology will have on cloud computing. Some believe that since 5G will effectively eliminate latency and allow devices to connect almost instantly, it could render the cloud obsolete. Others opine that the high speeds and other benefits 5G offers will take the cloud to greater heights. Let’s take a closer look at both scenarios:
5G Kills the Cloud
One of the primary reasons that the cloud is critical is that it kills latency and offers a decentralised infrastructure. These use cases may have little relevance with the speeds and low latency 5G brings to all devices. Of course, cloud computing will still have use cases even with 5G around, but its use may be much reduced in a post-5G world.
5G Takes the Cloud to New Heights
The above scenario seems to operate mainly on the belief that cloud computing will not evolve. However, there are several reasons to believe that 5G will have a positive impact on cloud computing, making it widely available to enterprises and consumers, as well as increasing its use cases.
True Mass-Market Cloud
One of the main areas where 5G will help the cloud is by further democratising the technology, expanding its reach to make it much more mass-market than it already is. Currently, rural areas around the world continue to operate without reliable high-speed internet access, even with 4G around. 5G brings ultra-high-speed internet coupled with low latency and energy savings to the masses due to its reduced costs, greater system capacities and massive device connectivity. Although these areas would probably be the last to get 5G, it will allow them to jump from slow internet of less than a few megabytes per second to over 20 gigabytes per second. Worst case scenario – they may get access to an uncongested 4G network that performs significantly superior to current levels.
Streaming Data and Analytics
Current Big Data tech leverages cloud infrastructure to meet the demand for computation power and storage. However, streaming analytics with big data remains a challenge due to the high latency and slow speeds. 5G should significantly minimize these streaming challenges.
In industrial supply chains, valuable information is gleaned by processing and analysing huge amounts of real-time sensor data. Such information has a great impact on efficiencies and costs. 5G would be essential in transmitting real-time data to be processed with no time lag.
With 5G, tech that was conventionally considered a possibility far into the future should now be much closer to our grasp. Take driverless cars, or real-time long distance medical procedures. Both of these rely on quick processing of large amounts of data, and both have some critical, and stringent safety standards that they must uphold. If they are to go big, they must evolve to having little to zero room for error.
With 5G’s low latency capabilities, and of course, bandwidth – we’re on the cusp of witnessing the birth of new cloud architecture dedicated to these technologies. Car-mapping tech, remote surgeries – all of these will perhaps be 5G’s true beneficiaries.
These are only a few of the use cases which 5G would have a major impact on. They involve massive and dynamic workloads, and currently leverage cloud infrastructure extensively. As cloud service providers adapt to the new networks and protocols which would come with the adoption of 5G, the processing capacity and scalability that could be achieved is unprecedented.