Major U.S. wireless carriers will do just about whatever it takes to move ahead in the race to have the foremost 5G network in the country. While they bid and compete for mid-band spectrum, which addresses the speed and distance issues that mmWave and low-band spectrum cannot, some are now turning to the EDGE (Enhanced Data Rate for GSM Evolution) for a boost.
What is EDGE?
EDGE (Enhanced Data Rate For GSM Evolution) provides a higher rate of data transmission than normal GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). It uses a backward-compatible extension of GSM of digital mobile technology. EDGE has a pre-3G radio technology and uses part of ITU’s 3G definition. It can work on any network deployed with GPRS (with necessary upgrades). Cingular (now AT&T) deployed EDGE in the United States on the GSM network in 2003 in order to increase data transmission speed. It’s considered a pre-3G radio technology.
How does EGDE work in wireless communication?
The EDGE computing process works by capturing and processing information as close to the data source or desired event as possible. EDGE uses sensors, computing devices and machinery to gather data and send it to edge servers or the cloud. Depending on the task or desired outcome the collected data might feed analytics and machine learning systems. It might also deliver automation capabilities or share a device or products, current state, according to Datamation.
EGDE has been in the U.S. for almost 20 years and has gone through a number of changes. Currently, more organizations are moving towards an EDGE model with IoT (Internet of Things) devices, so there’s a greater need to deploy EDGE servers, gateway devices and other equipment that will decrease how long as well as reduce the distance required for computing tasks and connecting to an entire infrastructure. Some of the infrastructure could comprise smaller EDGE data centers in secondary cities or rural areas.
What are the benefits of EDGE?
EGDE can help deliver the flexibility and scalability that businesses need to stay up to date. For example, a medical facility might use a sensor so it can get real time updates about the temperature medication is stored at and report on whether or not that temperature remained consisted while the medicine was in transport. An EDGE framework allows that sensor to help transmit the temperature data where it need to go faster.
Additionally, EDGE IoT devices and sensors can do things like provide real-time traffic reports. This technology can send alerts about any road congestion and offer insight into traffic patterns. Motion sensors on an EDGE network meanwhile can use motion sensors paired with AI algorithms to detect an earthquake and send out early warnings to businesses and residents so they turn off any systems that could cause a fire or explosion.
“As organizations wade deeper into the digital realm, edge computing and edge technologies eventually become a necessity,” Samuel Greengard wrote for Datamation. “There’s simply no way to tie together vast networks of IoT edge devices without a nimbler and more flexible framework for computing, data management and running applications outside a datacenter. Edge computing boosts device performance and data agility. It also can reduce the need for more expensive cloud resources, and thus save money.”
How does EDGE benefit wireless carriers?
EDGE has helped carriers better transmit data for some time, but this partnership might be as important as it’s ever been due to the 5G race. Each carrier wants top 5G honors in terms of speed and coverage and combining the fifth generation of wireless with EDGE computing might be the way to earn them.
“5G and edge computing are two inextricably linked technologies: they are both poised to significantly improve the performance of applications and enable huge amounts of data to be processed in real-time,” telecommunication consultancy STL Partners Edge computing practice Lead Dalia Adib wrote. “5G increases speeds by up to 10 times that of 4G, whereas mobile edge computing reduces latency by bringing compute capabilities into the network, closer to the end user.”
STL Partners argued that 5G needs mobile edge computing because it’s the only way to meet network latency (the time it takes data to move from one to another) targets that have been set. The consultancy noted that telecom operators might have reported that 5G in their lab can bring network speeds that are 20 times faster the LTE, but this likely won’t be the everyday user’s experience.
“There are still major unknowns in how 5G will achieve these speeds – ultra-low latency standards will only be revealed in 3GPP’s Release 16 later this year,” Adib wrote. “We feel it is likely 5G will rely upon edge computing to reach the targets that are being set.”
Mobile operators’ gradual approach to deploying 5G is the other reason the network needs EDGE computing, according to STL Partners. If operators continue on their 5G “glow slow cycle”, their full 5G won’t be sufficient enough to create an environment that comprises new applications. Not with 5G alone that is. EGDE could boost a 5G market prior to widespread coverage.
Adib also noted that going forward, the 5G-EDGE computing discussion won’t be an “either or” situation. Networks will work most effectively when both technologies are used simultaneously. Ultra-low latency will be necessary for future wireless devices like drones or to perform remote telesurgery. The 5G and EDGE computing combination can deliver such low latency. Together, the technologies can create a larger, faster pipe that data can move through in less time.
Additionally, EDGE can help operators upgrade their backhaul business models. Using data heavy apps that need high-def video or extensive data analysis and sending data back to the cloud can become expensive and ruin the customer experience—even on a 5G network. When EDGE is factored in however, data can be filtered out with the full stream traveling only as far as a local edge site. From there, the stream would be analyzed and rationalized and only what’s needed would be streamed and stored in the centralized cloud.
“If operators decouple access and backhaul connectivity pricing, offering reduced backhaul for streaming to the edge rather than the centralized cloud, they can incentivize application developers to use edge computing sites, rather than on-premise or on-device workarounds,” Adib wrote.
Is EDGE effective for wireless connectivity?
More companies seem to think so. For example, wireless carrier Verizon announced last month that it was launching private mobile EDGE computing for enterprise with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Outposts. The carrier’s mobile edge compute solution with AWS is available to enterprise customers in the U.S.
Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Outposts is a cloud computing platform that brings compute and storage services to the edge of the network on the customer premises. It enables the massive bandwidth and low latency that’s necessary to support real-time enterprise applications like intelligent logistics, factory automation and robotics. Verizon’s On Site 5G and private edge platform, enterprises also gain operational efficiencies, higher levels of security and reliability, and improved productivity.
“By bringing compute and storage services to the edge of the network on the customer premises, we’re providing enterprises with the low lag and high bandwidth needed to process information in near real time so they can gain actionable data-driven insights and optimize their operations,” Tami Erwin, Verizon Business CEO said in a release. “Through our partnership with AWS, we are helping customers unlock the true potential of 5G and edge computing which together will enable innovative applications involving computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning. We are just scraping the surface of the new experiences that will be enabled by having 5G and edge compute on site.”
Verizon’s On Site 5G and 5G Edge with AWS Outposts will provide manufacturers the near real-time responsiveness that enables applications like predictive maintenance and robotics for improved productivity and quality. Corning Incorporated, a materials science and advanced manufacturing innovator, is using Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Outposts and On Site 5G to enhance innovation at one of the world’s largest fiber-optic cable plants. Corning and Verizon are currently experimenting with high-speed, high-volume data collection on the factory floor, quality assurance, and on-premises inference using machine learning.
“At Corning, we believe 5G will revolutionize the way people and companies interact with technology, and we’re excited to advance these developments in our own plant, where we manufacture the optical cable needed to support the networks,” Michael A. Bell, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Optical Communications said in a release. “Leveraging Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Outposts, we can improve safety, precision and efficiency as we explore the potential of 5G and private mobile edge computing.”
Enterprises in various industries could benefit from having their own private network and EDGE compute infrastructure on site, according to Verizon. The carrier’s On Site 5G and 5G Edge with AWS Outposts can enable the ability to connect and manage a broad range of devices at scale and speed while also providing highly secure, near real-time connectivity. This will allow companies to bring new services to market faster than before, customize customer experiences and unlock greater value from data, while meeting low-latency and data residency requirements.
Meanwhile, if there’s any sign that EGDE is more hype than fantasy, it will be customer demand. As LoginRadius co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Deepak Gupta recently wrote for Forbes, businesses need to get ready to embrace the possibilities that 5G edge networks can provide. Apple and Samsung have “already jumped on the 5G bandwagon” and Ericsson’s Mobility report said that 5G subscriptions will reach 580 million this year—almost twice the amount from 2020. With that in mind, vendors should plan for customers expecting them to deliver top-notch experiences as modern apps and systems will be able to access more and more data.
“Since the conventional 4G-LTE coupled with centralized computing isn’t efficient enough to predict the surging data volumes and meet the demands, 5G is undoubtedly on the verge of offering immersive experiences and business opportunities,” Gupta said. “Hence, every chief experience officer must put their best foot forward to navigate their enterprise’s digital transformation journey from 4G-LTE to cutting-edge 5G edge technology.”