How 5G and Edge Computing are Better for Business (and why they’re even better together)

9 April 2021 | 309 Shares

For many global telecom providers, 5G rollout is front and center in their strategies for 2021 and beyond. This is set to be a 2 trillion-dollar opportunity, and telecoms are expected to invest $126 billion in 5G networking and services by 2023.[1]

Not only are they investing in infrastructure, but also in the software and skills needed to build and operate these networks. The aim being to reduce costs while delivering new services to customers — all under a consistent architecture.

As an open-source, cloud-based and software-defined technology, 5G improves greatly on its predecessors. Boasting data rates of up to 20GB/s, 99.99% network reliability, and around 10x less latency than 4G, it represents a technological leap with enormous potential.[2]

While today we see early 5G interest across many industries beyond mobile phones (in public, private and hybrid implementations), its most transformative, innovative, and profitable applications are yet to be discovered. Many of these applications will exist at the edge.

“For years, people have been talking about the transformative power of ultrafast, high-bandwidth 5G telecommunications networks. Today, we’re at the dawn of this new era.” Douglas Lieberman, Global Solutions Senior Director, Dell Technologies.[3]

Delivering on the promise of 5G

At first glance, it might seem that edge technologies and 5G are on different paths. With 5G promising to deliver high-speed networking to the now ubiquitous cloud — is there a reason to put processing at the edge?

The answer is remarkably simple. Exciting and innovative new uses for edge solutions — accelerated by the growth of 5G — are proving that the two technologies are highly complementary, and together they can solve more real-world challenges.

Today, around 10% of enterprise-generated data originates from outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud — which means it is created and processed at the edge. By 2025, Gartner predicts that this figure will grow to 75%.[4]

5G’s full potential will extend beyond macrocell networks, with edge-powered private cellular primed to address key enterprise needs in reliability, security, coverage, and performance. Not to mention its central role in defining the future make-up of wireless on- premises connectivity, complementing public cellular networks and driving new edge use cases.

The biggest 5G opportunities for enterprises are at the edge

The convergence of 5G and edge ecosystems is rapidly driving innovation and outside investment, all prompted by enterprise commitments to the technology and its potential. These commitments are grounded in 5G’s ability to overcome the limitations of proprietary networks like 4G. 5G, both macrocell and private, will combine to drive seamless edge solutions for enterprise, consumer, commercial, and industrial solutions.

The case for private 5G is much stronger where existing networking solutions (like 4G or Wi-Fi) can’t perform effectively, or don’t exist at all. In scenarios like these, edge technologies work hand in hand with 5G to deliver modernized solutions that meet customer needs through vertical applications.

For example, most enterprises have multiple interconnected on-site networks to provide connectivity for a wide variety of devices, from mobile devices and laptops, to servers, sensors, building automation, and computer vision technology.

In most cases, these existing legacy connectivity solutions are each linked to their specific applications or use cases — resulting in fragmentation, higher overall TCO and a greater ‘attack surface’ for security breaches.

Private 5G and edge networks can help to mitigate these critical issues by delivering a seamless, consolidated access and processing infrastructure, supported by collaboration with telecom provider services.

Enterprises want outcomes

As investments in edge and 5G solutions accelerate, operators and enterprises are beginning to identify the business cases to monetize this new ecosystem. Combining public and private 5G with edge, through close partnerships with telecom operators and technology providers like Dell Technologies, will deliver innovative, holistic solutions for enterprise customers.

“While 5G changes many of the ground rules for the industry, the new telecom is about more than just 5G. It’s also about the edge computing ecosystem.” Douglas Lieberman. Global Solutions Senior Director, Dell Technologies.[3]

Modernizing networking technology allows organizations to optimize existing use cases and create new ones, with a particular focus on real-time, low latency applications.

Real-time data insights have become essential for a wide variety of emerging use cases and applications. Due to the low latency and high speeds of combined edge and 5G, businesses will soon have access to the solutions they need.

In a survey of 750 industry experts in August 2020, STL Partners found that 40% of enterprises have issues with the latency of their current solution.[5] Take video analytics for example, where 39% of enterprises claimed that they do not gain valuable insights.

Imagine a retail store that uses smart cameras for both security and customer movement analysis. In such a scenario, an edge and private 5G solution can provide the networking capabilities to drastically increase its effectiveness.

With very little compute necessary on the camera itself, analysis can instead be streamed to an on-premises server, reducing equipment cost and latency while ensuring sensitive customer information is kept local and secure.

Likewise, nearly 70% of architecture, engineering, and construction (ACE) companies doubt the security of their networking technology.[5] With pre-existing Wi-Fi or wired infrastructure unlikely to be installed in many work environments, private 5G is an attractive proposition.

In these greenfield locations, implementing a private 5G solution would enable ultrafast secure connectivity with minimal infrastructure investment. All in a highly dynamic environment where the physical topology changes almost daily.

The use cases go well beyond these two examples. From construction to in-hospital patient monitoring, vehicle automation, mission-critical AI, cybersecurity, precision robotics and more — the question is how to best deliver the benefits of edge computing to end customers.

Beyond consumer use cases, 5G is particularly attractive for telecom providers looking for new services and solutions that combine private 5G connectivity with edge computing — maximizing investment in 5G infrastructure while driving new revenue streams.

This cohesive platform will enable enterprises and operators to work together to address a growing number of use cases for both specialized and general-purpose applications. In doing so, telecom providers will have the opportunity to enable these use cases by building the horizontal skills and capabilities to deliver private 5G and edge computing-enabled solutions tailored to individual vertical markets.

The benefits of Mobile Edge Computing (MEC)

In the 5G and edge ecosystem, private 5G, MEC, and edge applications work together to deliver enterprise outcomes by seamlessly working together from a common foundation.

MEC solutions are designed to integrate the telecoms core network with enterprise edge computing functionality, while also enabling simultaneous support for private 5G network functions on the same hardware.

In practice, they enable customers to reduce TCO while leveraging the benefits of modern networks in full — optimizing backhaul connectivity, reducing total latency, and integrating more holistically with carrier networks.

By offering these leading-edge technologies to enterprises as part of an integrated solution, service providers can deliver operational simplicity while also ensuring a quality of performance that cannot be achieved with existing technologies.

“In a fully realized 5G world, enterprises will partner with their carriers and service providers to build solutions for use cases that wouldn’t have been possible with earlier generation networks.” Douglas Lieberman, Global Solutions Senior Director, Dell Technologies.[3]

Private 5G and edge computing provides creative new opportunities for operators to work in partnership with service providers, technology partners, and enterprises to provide more than just the connectivity — but rather a complete end-to-end solution with outcomes.

Building partnerships

At the forefront of enterprise product development, Dell Technologies is working with service providers to develop new products through co-innovation. In practice, Dell acts as an agile partner in consulting, infrastructure, customer solution enablement, and joint go-to-market solution adoption.

Offering a vibrant ecosystem of devices and solutions across key industry verticals, they aim to deliver a single, high-availability experience for enterprises to manage their cloud and business outcomes.

Dell’s MEC and edge solutions work to simplify 5G rollouts, minimize risk, and create new services to monetize 5G investments. Let’s look at an example:


As one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, BT offers its enterprise customers a comprehensive portfolio of managed network services, which have evolved to include the latest uCPE solutions from Dell Technologies.

BT is utilizing the Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform (VEP), an open uCPE platform that supports a wide variety of virtual network functions (VNFs), as part of its Dynamic Network Services portfolio. It simplifies the customer network environment by eliminating the need for dedicated hardware devices for each customer network function.

BT’s introduction of uCPE into its portfolio enabled them to consolidate hardware platforms into one that supports multiple services for customers.

This includes the ability to deploy new services quickly and cost-effectively, while also eliminating new hardware deployments and truck-rolls to the customer location — decreasing overall costs and accelerating new service deployments.

BT also sees uCPE and Dell Technologies’ broader edge portfolio as playing a vital role in the evolution of a customer’s edge strategy.

As Brian Lappin, head of product management for BT’s Dynamic Network Services, said:

“Customers are looking to service providers to supply connectivity securely to support these [edge] use cases. By working with Dell Technologies, we believe we are ideally positioned to do that.” 

What’s next?

Making the most of these opportunities requires a broader set of competencies than service providers have needed up until now. By partnering with an edge computing specialist like Dell Technologies, they can adopt solutions to monetize their network investment more effectively and efficiently.

These developments coincide with the increasing importance of the edge as it becomes the focal point where data is generated, aggregated, processed, and forwarded as part of a customers’ digital transformation.

Striving to accelerate the returns of 5G adoption and edge-enabled solutions, Dell Technologies works with an ecosystem of proven partners to optimize the cost of installation and operations for all. With global enterprises likely to face many challenges along the way, working together is key to making the most of our digital future.

Dell Technologies’ proven co-creation process enables go-to-market opportunities by optimizing existing applications and 5G use cases while leveraging innovation to accelerate new revenue streams.[1] 

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