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Feb 28, 2019 | 2 minute read

5G and the latest digital transformation

written by Kristin Schepici

5G has been an overall popular topic this year, dominating conversations globally whether at events such as CES or Mobile World Congress, or in day-to-day conversations on digital disruption.

The anticipated low communication latency and increased network speeds with 5G are drastically heightening further interest in areas where real-time data processing and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) will be prevalent.

Sal Visca, CTO at Elastic Path is looking forward to the disruption this new technology is about to cause. “While, this new generation of communication provides up to 20 times more performance, it’s the other characteristics of 5G that will really change the game,” Visca said in an article in Gigabit Magazine

Many use cases of 5G will be around an overly connected world providing more convenience and safety. As the Washington Post reported, “5G’s latency will be crucial for a connected infrastructure. Improving the quality of government and utility services, in addition to enhancing public safety, health and sustainability. Smart-city technology is already in places such as Barcelona, Singapore and Columbus, Ohio, where it is being used for instant crime reporting, smart streetlights, and sensors that monitor things like air quality, parking spaces and garbage collection.”

With 5G’s network efficiency, it will enable billions of IoT devices to be added to networks. 

“5G may not have a tremendous impact on how we currently use our mobile phones, but it will bring more of the capabilities that are powered by cloud apps across networks that currently take seconds or many milliseconds to access (with limitations on the amount of data transmitted),” according to Visca. 

Healthcare, automotive, telecommunications and industrial automation are the main industry verticals that will see IoT-related benefits with the rollout of 5G.

With 5G pushing the boundaries of the networks and computing capabilities in the cloud, it’s also bringing edge computing to the forefront for industries. Analysts estimate that by 2020 more than five billion IoT devices will be in operation in enterprise and government environments utilizing edge computing for data collection.

Edge computing is already being deployed globally within the industrial automation (IA) field for smart logistics, machine learning, and factory asset management. According to Roger Billings, “edge computing is what is paving the way for a 5G rollout by helping to support virtualization, mobile and IoT applications. In addition to leading to a more scalable solution by migrating computation, networking, or storage capabilities across or through different levels of hierarchy.”

While most information will be uploaded and processed via the cloud, some business-critical applications will require the use of a computing infrastructure on the edge of the network to minimize the bandwidth needed to access data that is centrally stored (Gigabit Magazine). 

With the interconnectivity, machine learning, automation and real-time data now in play, we’re experiencing another industrial revolution. Bringing forth what is often deemed Industry 4.0– 5G, IoT and edge computing will be the essential enablers in this latest digital transformation.