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5G Edge Computing Use Case - Testing Boundaries

5G is the fifth-generation of cellular technology that is generating new innovations to transform wireless communications. This technology is being incorporated into radio, the core network in telecommunications, cloud services, user devices and information processing through the edge computing. 5G technology presents a unique capability that has the potential to disrupt.

The Big Picture

The technological advances sweeping the world today can be compared to the mid 20th century revolution triggered by the inroads made by electronic & IT, preceded by division of labor and mass electrification lead expansion of industrial production in the late 19th century, preceded by the steam lead mechanization in the mid-18th century1. Modern advancements in communication and connectivity have led to the Fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IR. This shift will result in sweeping technological, socioeconomic, and cultural changes that will redefine the way we live.

5G mobile communications has the potential to play a key role in this next industrial revolution. The earlier generations of cellular technologies, 4G and 3G, demonstrated the ability to bring digital penetration and deliver a multitude of services while keeping the complexity of the technology hidden from consumers. 5G extends these very characteristics of simplicity to a user while bringing in a completely new set of underlying capabilities.

Reimagining products and services

It is imperative for all stakeholders that are part of the 5G landscape, governments, and enterprises collaborate and explore various possibilities and synergies in order to leverage the power of 5G. While there have been many successful field trials with actual rollouts, the most effective use cases for 5G are still unclear2. These potential applications can be understood with existing 3G/4G networks while some are better suited for a WiFi type private network. In other situations, wired broadband is a better option. Similarly, there are more suitable network options in many IoT applications. 

The process of identifying targeted vertical and horizontal use cases should involve taking a larger system level view, synthesizing the products or services constituting it, and potentially exploring the elements adopting 5G features. Merriam-Webster defines a system3 as "a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole," such as "a group of devices or artificial objects or an organization forming a network especially for distributing something or serving a common purpose."

Figure 1.

 

Exploring possibilities with the larger system level view and applying proven methodologies like "System Thinking" will help test the present boundaries of a system, break away from convention and look at many closed-systems as open-systems in the future.

A potential use case

Let us explore a scenario involving concerts. A lot of planning and money goes into delivering a hightech experience to a live audience. Several systems are used to deliver a holistic experience including video, audio, stage lighting, security and surveillance, as well as external systems outside the venue. Setting up the equipment is a major task involving specialized skills, tools and resources. Getting the right amount of cables and interconnecting them to specification is a complex process.  Technical and non-technical restrictions on laying cables and meeting prerequisites for assembly require specialized skills to accommodate different venues. Overall, cables are always a logistical nightmare and can add on additional costs for manufacturing and shipping the products.

Below is a simplified representation of the setup required for a live performance. Some of the elements are much larger in number.

Figure 2.

 

There are various systems involved in a stage performance. These systems are often are isolated and don't interact with the others. For example, the stage lighting does not interact with the video systems and similarly to the surveillance systems. We can take this composite system to the drawing board to analyze the individual systems being used and test the physical and logical boundaries of each system. That's where 5G technology comes in as an external communication system. This as an alternative to every physical wire that is used to interconnect discrete system components here.

Figure 3 illustrates a 5G-enabled wireless world allowing an almost cable-free stage performance.

 

Product manufacturers need to gain the necessary hardware to incorporate 5G technology into their products to enable D2D (Device to Device) or cell-based communication. This feature will command a premium for the product as this indirectly results in significant savings for the customers. In addition to the business case, some of the pros and cons like the ones below have to be evaluated by the stakeholders.

Figure 4. 

 

Systematic exploration can unearth many valuable use cases for 5G. After carefully weighing the risks and rewards, the scope, scale and pace of adoption can be decided. Considering the money and reputation at stake, it is critical to first explore and test 5G technology in smaller events and conferences with fewer complexities. 

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About the Author

Saji Thoppil - Chief Technologist - Cloud and Infrastructure

Saji Thoppil is the Chief Technologist for Cloud and Infrastructure at Wipro. He drives the Edge Computing charter under Wipro's 5G initiative. Use cases and lifecycle management are his focus areas.  Saji is in the governing board of LF-Edge & Oasis TOSCA.

He has 25+ years of IT industry experience encompassing design, build and operationalization of complex, distributed IT systems. In recognition of his contribution to the organization and the industry, he was conferred the title of Wipro Fellow - Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. During his distinguished career, he has created multiple practices and incubated several new IPs for Wipro. Wipro's Fluid State Data center designed and developed by Saji was one of the industry's first blueprint for converged infrastructure. He is also the architect of deployed Wipro's first public cloud which was one of the first public clouds to go live in the Indian sub-continent.

Bibliography 

  1. Davis, Nicholas. "What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?" World Economic Forum, 19 Jan. 2016, www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/what-is-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/.
  2. Bleicher, Ariel. "First Intercontinental 5G Trial Begins at Winter Olympics." IEEESpectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News, IEEE Spectrum, 21 Feb. 2018, spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/first-intercontinental-5g-trial-begins-at-winter-olympics.
  3. Staff, Staff. "System | Definition of System by Merriam-Webster." Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 28 Apr. 2019, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/system.
Published Thursday, June 27, 2019 8:14 AM by David Marshall
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