Networks Europe Jul-Aug 2019 - Page 35

5G NETWORKS By Leo Craig, General Manager, Riello UPS IT administrators need to learn why containerised micro data centres will allow them to tap into the potential of superfast 5G We’ve recently seen Vodafone follow EE in dipping their toes into the world of 5G, with the other major network operators set to follow suit later this summer. To start with, the superfast speeds associated with the fifth generation of mobile communications will only be obtainable by people lucky enough to live in one of the select few towns and cities where the service is available. And then there’s the small matter of having to shell out for an expensive new 5G-enabled phone too. For the rest of us eager to capitalise on a tech innovation industry claims will completely revolutionise our personal and professional lives, we’ll have to wait a little longer for mass adoption. But surely the wait will be worth it in the end? And I’m not just talking about being able to download an entire film in a matter of seconds. While we need to take any prediction of 20Gb/s with a pinch of salt, most experts believe speeds of 10Gb/s – 100 times faster than standard 4G – will be achievable. This opens up a whole host of possibilities: smart factories, virtual and augmented reality, driverless cars, remote healthcare for patients and much more. However, the transformative future promised by 5G will rely on low latency and near- instantaneous processing power; something which the traditional data centre and the cloud struggle to deliver. Sending packets of information generated by sensors in our smart devices or from factories, offices and other places of work all the way to a centralised location, processing it, then ‘returning to sender’ for action simply doesn’t cut the mustard. At present, with the most advanced 4G networks there’s a latency of 40ms, while it’s 10-20 milliseconds even with a fixed ‘superfast’ broadband connection. Relying on connections to data centres that are often hundreds or even thousands of miles away inevitably chokes processing speeds further. In a world where even the tiniest delay can disrupt the all-important end-user experience, this is fast-becoming unacceptable. Transporting data in such a way also eats up vast amounts of hugely expensive bandwidth and provides cybercriminals and hackers with a potentially lucrative stream of information to target. It will take a different sort of processing to truly unlock the full power of 5G. Instead of sending information to and from data centres for processing, why not bring the processing close to where the data originates from? Fundamentally, that’s what edge processing is – the installation of smaller ‘local’ data centres near the factory, office block or heavily populated areas. Shifting from ‘data centres’ to ‘centres of data’ solves the conundrum of latency by removing lengthy two-way data flows. With the necessary supporting infrastructure at the edge, it’s predicted 5G will deliver 1ms latency for mission-critical and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, with 4ms the target for mobile broadband. 35