Verizon on 2021: 5G and MEC to deliver ‘untold breakthroughs for business’
While the Covid-19 global pandemic upended the world’s expectations in 2020, fortunately, the technology industry has weathered the challenges as an essential component of daily life. Innovations in 5G and mobile edge compute (MEC) in particular continued to accelerate. Now enterprises have commercially available public 5G and MEC options, an industry milestone, and private 5G and MEC is on the way.
5G and MEC presents an opportunity for all industries, regardless of sector, to think up and create experiences that would previously have been technologically unfathomable. Manufacturing, healthcare, and CV2X – sectors that need essentially real time responsiveness and are already operating IoT devices and moving to the edge – were some of the earliest explorers of this technology in 2020.
For instance, with the sheer amount of data from industrial sensors and machines, AI and machine learning can help make sense of the data and automate functions. Processing the data at the edge on 5G puts it closer to the source and can enable the AI interfaces running the industrial application to act in real-time.
With 90 percent of industrial enterprises expected to utilize edge computing by 2022 – just a year away – we can reasonably expect 2021 to be a year filled with the emergence of new applications and experiences built on 5G and MEC that will fuel an untold number of breakthroughs in business. Let’s delve into two trends to expect next year and how they will deliver on the promise of these technologies.
Expansion of the app ecosystem
Next year, both public and private 5G and MEC services will be available to developers and businesses in combination with more 5G-connected devices. The industry will see the expansion of ultra-low latency applications, ones that should reduce response time to single-digit milliseconds, for consumers and businesses.
This year, organizations and entrepreneurs have already begun to develop new applications that leverage the low-latency and high-bandwidth capabilities of 5G and MEC, and the ubiquity of these applications will only increase over time. For instance Avesha, a company that helps app developers transition to the edge, worked with hospitals on a proof of concept trial that uses AI to identify cancerous polyps in real time during colonoscopy procedures.
A lesser-known nuance about the 5G and MEC application ecosystem is that in addition to new apps, companies can begin to orchestrate specific aspects of their current cloud applications on 5G and MEC to improve the customer experience. For example, applications that have news feeds (like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Reddit) could deploy the feed display module using 5G and MEC, allowing for faster content delivery.
More tools for developers
Underscoring the expansion of applications next year are toolsets that will enable them, and as 5G and MEC applications become more complex, so too will the tools. While this relationship is clearly evident, the toolsets of 2021 will be foundational for the expansion of the industry.
One new solution critical for the advancement of 5G and MEC apps is providing developers more robust tools to intelligently and automatically choose when and in what conditions to deploy an app or module with 5G and MEC service. Interestingly, this tool is similar to how network providers approach network deployments, with the overall aim to optimize network handoffs.
Even with the super low-latency of 5G and MEC, it still can not overcome the laws of physics and having applications run at the nearest, optimal edge zone improves the end-user experience. This tool will be key as networks and availability of the 5G and MEC expands next year.
In addition, developers will increasingly need service-chain tools to help orchestrate specific SaaS modules together. For example, a first-person shooter game running on the cloud that may have AR features, will need to link edge capabilities with the AR module, an AI module and even item databases. The fact is that while some service chain tools exist today, these are not designed for applications and orchestrations that will need real-time responsiveness.
In essence, 2021 could be compared to the famous line, “if you build it, they will come,” in that much of it has been built, and now the applications will come. With initially commercial 5G and MEC services available and a robust and growing 5G-connected device environment, the application ecosystem will expand. This will push forward the need for new tools and the integration of existing SaaS platforms and services.
Next year, the industry will further see the emergence of 5G and MEC’s promise: a new era of transformative experiences and technologies.