Edge clouds combine radio and core functions

Reduced latency is a key feature of 5G networks, and both consumers and enterprises stand to benefit. But for operators investing billions in densifying their networks and moving intelligence out to the edge, the monetization opportunity really lies in empowering enterprises and industries to leverage a whole new set of connected, IoT-type applications dependent on low latency.

In a panel discussion at 5G Americas, Lindsay Notwell, Cradlepoint’s vice president of carrier and international business said, for 5G, “latency is the killer feature. It’s the real hero. The things that make it interesting are the new applications that will be enabled through lower latency.”

He said edge investment is key to 5G realizing its full potential. “If you have to backhaul the traffic to a centralized core, that’s just not going to work. Just like consumers have this ever-insatiable demand for more, better, faster, we’re seeing the same thing from enterprises. They want the ability to do anything they want to do wherever and whenever they want to do that.”

Because 5G is more than just a carrier play, vendors need to pivot to better support the enterprise, according to Caroline Chan, Intel VP and GM of the 5G Infrastructure Division. “5G must start with NFV/SDN as a foundation. When we go talk to enterprise, which is Intel’s bread and butter…you’ve got to go talk to the CIO. They’re not network operators. They’re much more comfortable with something that looks like a server, feels like a server, runs like a server.”

She said enterprise edge is her “personal interest…Where are we going to get the return on investment?

“How do 5G use cases benefit the enterprise?” she pondered during a panel conversation hosted by Cradlepoint in Austin, Texas, during a week of colocated 5G conferences. “That’s my personal interest–the enterprise edge. We all know that 5G, the way that we talk about, is going to take a lot of investment. Where are we going to get the return on investment?” Chan noted her involvement in 5G groups that look specifically at vertical use cases for automotive and industrial automation, for example. “The trick is, if you want to get more money, more than just a SIM card, you have to have enterprise,” she said.

During a discussion at 5G World in London, Rainer Liebhart, Head of 5G Solutions Architecture, described edge clouds as hosting “radio and core applications and functions at the same time. This is something new…which gives us a lot of opportunities and this is also I would say a differentiator between edge cloud and central cloud. When we are talking about edge clouds, we are talking about small data centers. It can even be in your cellar and you can heat your house with it.”


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