Edge Computing – The critical enabler to the Communications and Internet industry during the crisis

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Significant challenges are being posed by the attack of Covid-19 on the human population and the debilitating effect it has on the world economy. The current situation not only impedes the industry’s progress but also will have to face a prolonged delay. With entire countries on lockdown and no precedent in place, we face an uncertain future at a global level.

Over 40+ countries that had planned to rollout 5G carrier technologies have been confounded with the COVID-19 outbreak. As communication networks get jammed because of increased usage, network service providers are being forced to focus on keeping the lights on rather than to deploy and roll out new technologies. Some of the markets where the 5G networks have already been launched have plans to postpone further expansion and densification of the networks. Some countries have also announced that they are postponing 5G spectrum auction due to the ongoing pandemic crisis.

The supply chains for 5G gear manufacturing have been completely disrupted. Many parts and devices for 5G originate from the China. While Chinese companies are limping back to normalcy, the stopping of manufacturing and the impact to productivity will be felt for some time. Additionally enterprise adoption of 5G based private networks are being impacted due to in delay in the release of the associated 3GPP standards.

In the realm of human productivity under the current crisis, we have seen a strong rise in cloud and Internet-based services, solutions to minimize paperwork and physical contact, virtual meeting solutions, virtual classrooms etc. Going sector-wise, we are seeing increased demand for 5G style services as listed below:

  • Enterprises – Virtual meetings rooms, online trainings, virtual contracting
  • Entertainment – gaming industry, new ways of disseminating content and promoting small businesses, online cooking classes, and virtual visits to landmarks
  • Education, sports, and well-being – Virtual classrooms, online fitness classes
  • Services industry – contact-less systems, enhanced delivery services, remote banking services
  • Healthcare – Telemedicine, Remote diagnostics

As the enterprise’s / consumer’s demand for the above mentioned 5G style services grows, the industry’s capability to serve is going down as the networks are getting bogged down by the increased demand for internet-based services. We believe the current upsurge of demand for such services and the future new normal post the crisis can be delivered by the current generation of LTE based networks by deploying and complementing the networks with Edge Computing.

Edge Computing can bridge the gap between the promise of 5G networks and the capability of the current generation networks to rise to the challenge of increased demand for the services combined with the ability to deliver superlative user experience for rich media, VR/AR and gamified content, real time collaboration etc.

Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and 

data storage closer to the location where it is needed, to improve response times, reduce latency, address data localisation, security and privacy concerns. The Edge offers a superior experience for video based virtual meetings, video streaming services and better throughput for the networks, making it a crucial tool to meet the demands of the industry. 

Alef’s Edge Internet cloud software bridges the gap between the network and application communities to unleash the full potential of 5G today. It works seamless over any wireless or fixed line networks like 3G,4G, Wi-Fi, CBRS and upcoming 5G. It enables ultra-low latency and high throughput, thus reducing the existing load over networks and providing a platform to bring future technologies and use cases to life today like AR/VR, ultra HD video streaming, drone control, connected cars, etc.

As far as unforeseen circumstances go, this outbreak is on its way to set the precedent to how we tackle such situations – our response will define the future tomorrow. Edge computing has established an unassailable lead in complementing traditional networks in the aspects of latency, data localisation and security concerns. Alef’s commitment to innovating and scaling the Edge Computing technology will help overcome immediate challenges thrown by the current crisis and address the changed needs of this world.

Author- Neelakantan Venkataraman

Co-Author- Shreya Baheti

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