With the ability to support significantly higher speeds, lower latency and higher capacity, 5G is the first generation of mobile/wireless communications built to handle advanced enterprise applications. It is poised to speed up digital business innovations like self-driving cars, smart cities, connected healthcare and more. But the promise of 5G can’t be met without more data exchange points at the edge to support the proliferation of data and distance limitations inherent in 5G technology. To scale for 5G, network service providers (NSPs) will need direct and secure, proximate interconnection points between larger numbers of network nodes to securely host and stream data at significantly higher speeds, volumes and lower latencies.
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By 2021, creation of useful data will outstrip data center network traffic capacity by a factor of 4:1.
5G enterprise market accelerators
According to Gartner, two thirds of organizations plan to deploy 5G by 2020, and worldwide revenue for 5G wireless network infrastructures is expected to nearly double between 2019 and 2020, from $2.2 billion to $4.2 billion.[i] There are several trends driving enterprise adoption and acceleration of the 5G market:
1. The need for speed: Emerging business applications such as self-driving cars, connected healthcare, smart cities and the industrial internet of things (IoT) require more scalable network performance and capacity. 5G’s advances in speed, latency and capacity will open the door for new use cases like these across multiple industries:
- Manufacturing: remote maintenance and repairs, connected supply chain, factory automation and robotics
- Healthcare: remote assisted surgery/diagnoses, personalized medical care, health monitoring
- Agriculture: remote moisture sensing, disease identification and weather tracking
- Entertainment: immersive reality experiences and real-time gaming, streaming video
- Retail: AR/VR and personalized shopping experiences
- Smart cities: smarter transportation, emergency response, remote monitoring (infrastructure, environment), disaster recovery
- Transportation: self-driving cars + vehicle-to-everything communications, autonomous fleet conveying
2. Explosive data growth: The amount of data created and consumed will continue to proliferate. By 2021, Cisco estimates that the creation of useful data (85 zettabytes, or ZB) will outstrip data center network traffic capacity (21 ZB) by a factor of four to one.[ii] 5G can help close the capacity gap through network slicing that allows operators to break out network traffic more locally, closer to the end user for higher performance when accessing latency-sensitive applications. Managing data-intensive use cases like these with the functionality that 5G brings can enable NSPs to administer network resources more efficiently and improve performance and reliability.
With the Equinix vendor neutral colocation and interconnection model, 5G operators can maintain control of their value chain.
3. IT architectures going virtual at the edge: Enterprise workloads will continue to shift from centralized to distributed processing and from traditional physical resources to virtualized environments to improve IT agility and lower costs. To rollout 5G, NSPs will also need to shift from centralized to distributed IT architectures at the edge and leverage network automation and software-defined capabilities to enable reliable connectivity at more points throughout the network.
How NSPs can scale quickly to meet the demand
Rolling out 5G will require NSPs to invest in deploying more radio and optical capacity, as well as network aggregation points. Existing network aggregation points – typically the mobile telephone switching office (MTSO) or central office (CO) – were never designed to accommodate a large amount of compute at scale. In many cases, these COs can’t physically be upgraded to handle the power requirements associated with 5G. That’s why we expect to see a proliferation of radio access network (RAN) and cloud RANs (C-RANs) interconnections within local colocation data centers. By partnering with a recognized leader in deploying 5G infrastructures like Equinix, NSPs can:
Increase their reach while decreasing costs and upfront investment (OPEX instead of CAPEX) on the world’s leading interconnection and data center platform.
- Seamlessly scale and accelerate time to market with interconnection and on-demand virtual network services like Network Edge.
- Gain instant access to essential partner ecosystems (5G value chain, digital business, financial, and new mobile/IoT ecosystems) and unlock new value across digital ecosystem participants.
- Increase security with private interconnection.
- Maintain control of their value chain with the Equinix vendor neutral colocation and interconnection model.
- Benefit from best-in-class data center expertise and investment in 5G and IoT innovation.
As a case in point, Equinix is currently building a 5G proof-of-concept operating environment with major mobile network operators to enable comparison of 5G architectures, develop business models and go-to-market strategies. In Japan, we are collaborating with Nokia WING to build 5G IoT infrastructures for Japanese operators,[iii] and we also participate in 5G/IoT industry consortiums such as 5GAA which are playing a major role in advancing smart transportation solutions.
Learn more about the benefits of deploying 5G on Platform Equinix.
You may also be interested in reading our previous 5G blog posts.
[i] Gartner, Gartner Survey Reveals Two-Thirds of Organizations Intend to Deploy 5G by 2020, Dec 2018 and Gartner Forecasts Worldwide 5G Network Infrastructure Revenue to Reach $4.2 Billion in 2020, Aug 2019.
In this video, Ankur Bhan, global head of Nokia WING, shares insights on connectivity for enterprise IoT use cases: