Talk of a metaverse would not be happening without 5G and MEC (Verizon on 2022)
Each year advancements in wireless network technology transform the way businesses use and benefit from mobile capabilities. 5G offers super-fast speeds, low latency and massive capacity. Mobile edge computing brings compute and storage services to the edge of a wireless network. The combination of the two – of 5G and edge computing – can help enterprises to build and deploy a variety of applications such as machine learning, IoT, and video and game streaming.
The combination minimizes the latency and network hops required to connect from an application to the end user’s device. This can enable near real-time analysis and artificial intelligence and machine learning at scale. In 2021, we witnessed the commercial availability of 5G mobile edge computing to allow enterprises and developers to learn how to architect their applications for the edge. In 2022, we’ll start to see more enterprises adopt these edge architectures and scale these transformative solutions.
Mobile edge compute is available in two different categories: private and public. Public mobile edge compute puts cloud computing resources at the edge of a public cellular network and is publicly available for businesses or developers to access. A public mobile edge compute network is best suited for companies working with time-sensitive applications that need fast response times, such as autonomous vehicles, smart health devices or when deploying IoT devices to aid in public safety.
Private mobile edge compute is an infrastructure installed on premises such as large campuses, warehouses and factories that along with a private network gives enterprises a secure and dedicated computing platform that delivers ultra-low latency allowing them to tap into near real-time data analysis.
Due to the pandemic and throughout 2021 there has been an urgent need to make businesses more digitally capable with experiences that can work as well virtually as they do in the real world. With a growing dependence on digital, industry leaders will see heavier interest in solutions such as public and private mobile edge compute to power an increasing use of IoT innovations.
Multiple industries can benefit from technological advances like 5G and mobile edge compute. Covid-19 forced retailers to adopt emerging technology and this adoption is expected to gain momentum in the coming year. Funding for technology continues to hit new records as retailers look to streamline store operations, drive growth, and combat an exasperated supply chain. With 5G and mobile edge compute, retailers can streamline back of the house operations like inventory, as well as improve customer personalization and contactless service with actionable data-driven insights in near real-time to help drive operational efficiency and profitability.
AiFi, a technology company that enables entirely contactless autonomous shopping, is using 5G and mobile edge compute so that its computer vision tracking data can be processed in near real time, allowing shoppers to avoid long checkout lines, buy what they need and leave, all without staff interactions. Plus, its autonomous stores are now more portable, cost efficient and scalable since 5G mobile edge compute allows AiFi to move heavy computing done by hardware on premises to the cloud so less heavy equipment and hardware are needed on site.
Retail and automotive companies can also use 5G and mobile edge computing to power autonomous mobile robots, such as autonomous forklifts, in near real time to help keep track of inventory and aid workers in performing “back of house” restocking tasks.
Additionally, manufacturers and logistics companies can use 5G and mobile edge computing to gain near real-time responsiveness that enables applications like predictive maintenance and robotics for improved productivity and quality. Corning Incorporated, a leading materials science and advanced manufacturing innovator, is currently testing how 5G and edge compute can enable high-speed, high-volume data collection on the factory floor, quality assurance, and on-premises inference using machine learning.
Further, logistics and supply chain solutions company Ice Mobility has used 5G and edge compute to help with computer vision-assisted product picking and packing to improve on site quality assurance. The company is also exploring using 5G and mobile edge compute with other applications to enable, for example, near real-time activity-based costing. This would allow them to assign overhead and indirect costs to specific customer accounts, pick and pack lines, and warehouse activities to enhance efficiencies, track costing and resource allocation by warehouse activity, and thereby improve competitiveness.
We’ve seen successful implementations of 5G and mobile edge compute from the factory floor to the warehouse, and more. Examples such as Ice Mobility and Corning are just a few of the results that will inspire businesses to take the plunge in 2022. As network leaders continue to partner with leading cloud providers like AWS, Google, and Microsoft, access to 5G and mobile edge compute solutions will become more widespread, giving businesses more options to deploy. The deployment of C-Band cellular spectrum will also advance mobile edge compute in 2022 by giving more businesses access to public 5G networks.
As 2022 continues, 5G and mobile edge compute should really take off and scale. This year we will see the partnering between network providers and companies across industries turn innovation into reality. The combination of private and public 5G and mobile edge compute will allow enterprises to improve business practices with more efficient processes and near real-time connections.
Expect an uptick in companies weighing the investment it takes to adopt and install mobile edge compute technology. 2021 was a year of refinement, where 5G and mobile edge compute providers listened to enterprise customers and incorporated key learnings to improve the user experience and decrease the time it takes to deploy the technology. While 5G and mobile edge compute became more widely available in 2021, there is even more on the horizon in 2022 and beyond.
5G is the foundation for 21st century innovation and pairing it with edge compute will allow developers and businesses in every industry to create truly transformational applications for use cases such as immersive VR gaming, video distribution, and connected and autonomous vehicles This distributed edge fabric that is running on 5G can allow massive amounts of data inputs to be safely dispersed over a secure network, which should effectively power robots, video processing software, the next killer app, and more.
As we see the concept of the metaverse gain traction in 2022, it’s important to note that these conversations would not be happening without the power of 5G and mobile edge compute. In 2022, 5G and MEC will use that power to deliver the promise of transformative experiences and future proof technologies.