New Service Creation: 5G and Edge Computing for the Win!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Source | Telecom Reseller

by Mark Tubinis, Chief Commercial Officer at Veea, Inc.

The demand for 5G solutions is accelerating. Both businesses and consumers want faster, higher capacity networks that provide reliable, ultra-low latency connectivity. Superfast broadband is no longer a nice-to-have. With remote work, distance learning, and online health an everyday reality for the foreseeable future, high-speed connectivity is now woven into our everyday lives and has become essential infrastructure in the way we work, live, and play.

5G also enables high-bandwidth applications like augmented reality, vehicle automation, precision robotics, indoor positioning applications, camera and occupancy security applications, and real-time AI. Today, these applications are not practical because they are immersive, real-time, and too data intensive. 5G makes it possible to move large amounts of data across the last mile in real-time, with local edge computing required to process all that data for applications.

Testing edge applications has already begun. Smart cities like Seongnam, South Korea are testing Augmented Reality (AR) to enhance its latest cultural exhibits. The Seongnam Cultural Foundation’s Independent Activist Webtoon Project exhibit uses AR to delight, engage and educate visitors as they learn about the lives and spirits of 100 historically important activists.

AR software running at the edge allows visitors to view and hear animated webtoon 3D characters to life on smartphone screens as they move through the exhibit. Exhibit visitors can even take selfies with the characters and view giant 3D elephants and rabbits playing in the exhibit plaza grass.

The opportunity for new revenue creation for telcos comes from these types of real-time, immersive services that require the combination of 5G and edge computing.

These new services will only happen if the industry uses edge-processing capacity as a complement to core cloud capacity – not as a replacement. Just as SaaS eclipsed on premise software, applications running at the edge will shift the cloud-computing paradigm from a centralized model to a more balanced, distributed model that combines the strengths of hyper-scale cloud-based processing with the responsiveness of edge-based processing.

Edge computing solves four major challenges.

  • Bandwidth: Moving all of the collected data from every device back to a central cloud has a cost. By processing the data as close as possible to the sources, and only passing filtered and curated information to the central data center/cloud, tremendous savings can be gained. This includes not only the cost of the bandwidth itself, but also in the need to continually build out infrastructure capacity to handle it.
  • Responsiveness: Some network-based processing requires “real-time” responses in milliseconds. Manufacturing control systems, robotics, autonomous vehicles, access controls, live human interaction, AI applications, and augmented reality/virtual reality systems require localized processing to deliver an essential level of responsiveness.
  • Security: A smart edge network can be a tremendous security perimeter. By processing, filtering, and curating data close to its origin, and passing on only what is needed for further core processing, the possibility of unlawful data interception is dramatically reduced. In addition, edge processing nodes can be used to recognize and block malicious traffic moving both to and from end devices. BOT-generated attacks can be blocked very close to their sources, before they can reach the core datacenter/cloud.
  • Storage: Storage is relatively cheap, but if the price of storage falls by 50%, and we create 100% more data, we still have a problem. Data is only as useful as the knowledge we can extract from it. Rather than shipping all of that data somewhere “in the cloud” for storage and future processing, we can process the data as close to real-time as possible, and compress it into meaningful knowledge that can be stored more efficiently.

Since processing needs to be as close as possible to where devices connect, and we need to keep things manageable, it makes sense to integrate processing resources into the locations currently hosting Wi-Fi routers, IoT access points/gateways, and cellular access points. This new, essential integrated “connectivity + computation” element for edge computing architectures is the Smart Edge Node or SEN.

Beyond connect and compute capabilities, SENs must also have security built into their DNA; in the interfaces, processing, and overall system and software architecture. This embedded security is critical since the additional nodes in this distributed computing architecture offer a larger attack surface for bad actors. In fact, as noted above, by embedding security as a core SEN capability from the start, the increased number of distributed edge elements shifts from being a potential liability to a position of strength against many kinds of cyber-attacks. Rather than trying to block a DDOS attack at the target, you can block it at the sources, before it ever grows into a problem.

SENs must also have the ability to become part of a scalable multi-SEN application mesh so that the processing capacity of all of the SENs in a given local edge network can be leveraged as a single aggregated resource. If this application mesh can be created wirelessly and cellular WANs are used, the SENs need only have a physical connection to power. All other connectivity may be achieved wirelessly, making SEN deployment incredibly simple. And adding additional edge cloud processing capacity is as easy as powering up another SEN.

Having a scalable edge computing environment that minimizes support and is capable of delivering new services will drive service providers to offer all new immersive, real-time services to both consumers and enterprises. A distributed edge built on widely deployed and wirelessly SENs is the most viable and practical way to scale the edge.

Once service providers have the winning combination of 5G and a scalable edge computing network, they will be empowered to deliver new, innovative services for consumers and enterprises built around IoT automation, V2X, AR, VR, video, and more. And of course, they will also enjoy the revenue streams that follow.