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The increasing proliferation of IoT devices and the introduction of 5G are taking technology to new heights. The resulting data “tsunami” from faster wireless networks and exponential growth in devices also creates new opportunities for edge computing by bringing computing storage and analytics closer to the data source.

Edge computing can make data processing faster, more reliable and less costly. It can also alleviate some of the strain that rapid growth has placed on conventional data centers, by bringing processing power closer to the equipment that’s creating or consuming the data.

This article explores the ways in which IoT and 5G can support edge computing's success.

What is IoT and how does it support edge computing?

If you’ve ever monitored your heartbeat or step count with a fitness tracker, monitored your connected car using an app on your phone, or used a home automation app to do anything from dimming the lights in a room to activating an alarm, you’ve used IoT.

Short for the Internet of Things, IoT refers to a network of devices that convert the physical environment into digital information. Examples include temperature or humidity sensors, asset location trackers and connected video cameras – all equipped with sensors or actuators, computing power and network connectivity. These objects collect and exchange data, and can be monitored and controlled remotely.

IoT devices facilitate communication between objects and users, and edge has the potential to make that communication faster and more effective. With edge computing, these objects can process and analyze data locally, at the "edge" of the network, rather than having to transmit data to a central server in the cloud for processing. For example, rather than sending thousands of temperature readings in a storage facility to the cloud, the edge can watch over the facility and send alerts only if a freezer has failed and the temperature has started to rise.

This approach can help to reduce latency (the time it takes for the network to respond), improve network reliability and conserve bandwidth.

By combining IoT devices with edge computing, businesses can make more efficient use of their resources and gain real-time insights that can drive better decision-making. And, when integrated with automation, IoT can greatly enhance efficiency by streamlining various processes and minimizing human intervention.

5G unlocks the true potential of edge computing

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology, offering higher data-transfer speeds, lower latency and great capacity than previous generations. 5G can support edge computing by providing faster and more reliable wireless connectivity to the devices and applications that are processing and analyzing data at the edge of the network.

With its low latency and high bandwidth capabilities, 5G can help to reduce the time it takes for IoT devices and edge servers to communicate with each other, enabling real-time processing of data at the edge. It can also support the deployment of edge-computing infrastructure by enabling faster and more reliable connectivity between edge servers and the centralized cloud, allowing for efficient data transfer and analysis across the network.

Overall, the combination of 5G and edge computing can lead to faster, more responsive and more efficient applications and services in a wide range of industries.

By using the power of IoT devices and 5G connectivity, edge computing can be made more powerful and versatile, allowing businesses to deploy a range of applications and services at the edge of the network, such as autonomous vehicles, smart cities and industrial automation.

Combining the high speed and low latency of 5G with the processing power of edge computing could push IoT and your mobile experience forward.

Taking it a step further, NTT’s Private 5G gives your organization a secure, turnkey private network management solution, which has already proved to be of great benefit in the healthcare, automotive and manufacturing industries, for example.

How will edge computing develop and how important is edge as a service?

One possibility is that edge computing will become more integrated into other technologies, such as cloud computing and IoT. There may also be additional innovation, including improved machine-learning capabilities and better performance across networks.

NTT’s Edge as a Service (EaaS), for instance, combines private 5G and IoT with edge computing to manage and deliver on-demand automation and a superior user experience. By centralizing the management of edge-computing resources, organizations reduce the need for onsite personnel and hardware. This typically leads to greater operational efficiency, security and business growth.

EaaS enables organizations to scale their edge-computing resources up or down more quickly and easily as business demands change. This avoids the overprovisioning or underuse of resources – and associated costs.

Other benefits of EaaS include faster deployment, without the need for significant upfront investment in hardware and infrastructure because it is a consumption model based on operating exenditure, and security features such as encryption, access control and threat detection to protect edge-computing resources from cyberthreats.

Overall, the combination of IoT, 5G, and edge computing can help to create a more responsive, efficient and reliable network infrastructure, enabling organizations to gain real-time insights and make better decisions based on the data generated by their IoT devices. 

This article includes contributions by Paul Bloudoff, Director: 5G Strategic Client Enablement at NTT


Learn more about edge computing and why experts are excited about it.