For Reduced Latency Look to Edge Computing, Not 5G
Edge computing can vastly reduce latency. Edge computing decentralises data processing and moves it closer to the place where it was generated (at the ‘edge’ of the network). As the data does not have to travel to a central cloud latency is reduced.
Low latency vital if we want to see many of the possible applications of IoT being realised.
Without reduced latency, many IoT applications simply aren’t possible, practical, or desirable. This is particularly true in smart cities, healthcare, IIoT, and autonomous transport.
Impatience is a Virtue
Those millisecond delays, which are frustrating if you’re browsing the internet or trying to connect to your smart fridge come with much more serious consequences once we’re talking about a car deciding how to react when a pedestrian unexpectedly steps out into the road.
A whole swathe of IoT use cases simply don’t function without this reduced latency that edge computing can bring.
5G also comes with promises of vastly reduced latency. That’s on top of blisteringly fast speeds and the ability to segment the network. Operators will be able to carve out subnetworks, which each have characteristics best-suited to certain uses. However, 5G has some definite drawbacks.
5G Finally Arrives! In Some Cities…
After a long wait, 5G is being rolled out in cities around the world. Chicago, Los Angeles, Seoul, Beijing, Manchester, and many more. However, 5G coverage is far from universal and currently it is only available in specific cities in certain countries.
The availability of 5G in these cities may well be a boon for applications like self-driving taxis, smart cities, and smart buildings. However, for applications which by their nature operate in more remote areas 5G may not form part of the answer for a very long time, if ever.
Too Remote for 5G
Oil rigs, wind farms, factories tend not to be located in dense urban centres and it may be a long time (if ever) before they can benefit from the fast speeds and low latency that 5G can bring.
These IoT applications need decreased latency now. Why should people in these sectors wait?
The answer is edge computing. With edge computing, remote IoT applications can benefit from low latency and increased bandwidth today.
Edge computing does not need to wait for 5G to be deployed. In fact, it’s likely that 5G will need edge computing networks in order to achieve some of its grandiose promises. For data to travel long distances will always take some time (even if that network is faster than any previous iterations). So, 5G needs edge computing to achieve those top speeds that have been hyped.
Edge computing is the solution that is possible now. Maybe one day 5G will be available worldwide, including in remote locations, but for now edge computing is the answer.