While 2020 was the year of rapid acceleration for digital transformation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many tech trends will continue to come to the forefront this year, including the highly anticipated 5G and edge computing. In a recent article predicting top telecom trends for 2021, CRN states 5G is “one of the most prominent telecom trends in recent years,” and that it will be even bigger in 2021 as carriers expand their 5G networks. 5G and the edge will work together to support the changing needs of businesses by providing stronger, faster connectivity for both central offices and employees who continue to work remotely due to the pandemic.
So what does 2021 hold for the edge in particular as we turn the calendar page to a new year? EdgeMicro’s very own Greg Pettine, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Business Development, gave his expert opinion during a recent virtual roundtable hosted by Jaymie Scotto & Associates. Watch Taking the Pulse of 2021: The State of Telecommunications Around the World now, or read on for the roundtable highlights.
COVID-19’s Impact on Telecom and 5G
Hosted by Robert Powell, Founder and Chief Editor of Telecom Ramblings, the roundtable featured global guest speakers from various aspects of the telecom industry. The expert panel kicked off the event with a conversation about what the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means for telecommunications.
During the discussion, Pettine noted that internet traffic is going away from central business districts toward suburbs and that service providers have had to keep up with the demand to provide more bandwidth to homes. Another panelist remarked that large companies have recognized the “exposed checkpoints” in IT infrastructure. Adding, when an employee has connectivity issues due to subpar service, business productivity can suffer.
Is 2021 the Year for 5G and the Edge?
The roundtable discussion then turned to whether 2021 will be the year 5G goes mainstream. According to a LightReading prediction, while 5G proliferation will continue, consumers don’t yet seriously need 5G. When Powell asked if edge infrastructure was ready, panelists generally agreed several hurdles still exist.
“5G needs the edge; the edge doesn’t need 5G,” stated Pettine. “5G is still several years away. Radios have to be replaced on macro towers, working with cities to put up towers is a challenge and running fiber from fronthaul to aggregation points is a challenge.”
Pettine further explained that data currently has to make too many stops, slowing down the transmission process, in order for businesses to monetize applications at the edge.
The roundtable wrapped up with each panelist predicting how the industry will advance this year. Although there are still large strides to be made, Pettine believes the industry will see more edge adoption in 2021 largely due to the covid-driven digital transformation. A McKinsey survey found that companies’ digitization of customer, supply chain interactions and internal practices advanced by up to four years, and Pettine expects that trend to continue.
Catch the full roundtable discussion here to hear more about the challenges and opportunities at the edge, as well as other trends that will shape the technology world in 2021.