Businessman touching internet of things in 5G network showing the push of 5G IoT market towards edge computing
How the One-Two Punch of 5G, IoT Pushes Edge Computing by Carsten Rhod Gregersen, CEO and Founder at Nabto

How the One-Two Punch of 5G, IoT Pushes Edge Computing

Low latency is big business. The powerful pairing of IoT technology backed by 5G connection is expected to grow fast according to data released earlier this year. AP reports the 5G IoT market will grow at more than 50 percent annually to occupy $6.285 billion by 2025 – not a bad result for an industry threatening to break $700 million next year.

Clearly, everyone is talking about IoT and 5G – but the majority are missing key points in the discourse, like how faster connections will move users away from cloud computing and closer to edge computing and what such tech actually means for the average person.

5G IoT is expected to account for one-quarter of the more than 40 million connections by 2024 – opening potential for innovation and expansion of what exactly 5G can offer. This is what users should all be thinking about today.

5G – So hot right now

There is a reason consumers, companies and techies are all very excited about the expansion to 5G networks around the world – speed. The big brother to 4G is lightning fast, opening up download and transfer possibilities like never before. For example, Deutsche Telekom recently tested a 5G network and recorded speeds of three gigabits per second. Under ideal conditions, those speeds are predicted to be able to reach 10 gigabits per second. For reference, the fastest mobile technology currently available peaks at 300 megabits per second.

That is fast – so fast that it is expected to shift what is possible with IoT devices. Connected devices like alarms, appliances, printers and televisions are taking over the homes of today, and with better speeds comes better response times. It all comes down to latency, and pundits predict 5G and IoT will develop concurrently and symbiotically to create a seamless connection between device and internet.

The potential for faster speeds than ever before translates into the need for better device linkage than ever before. Poor latency between device and client application could nullify any progression to worldwide network speeds, so configurations which preference peer-to-peer connections instead of those which divert through third-party cloud servers appear to be gaining traction alongside the rise of 5G. Similarly, the sheer speed potential of 5G is also forcing a rethink to customer storage as better download and upload possibilities allow for users to store their data closer to home.

What is the edge?

Forget cloud servers owned by multinationals: Edge computing and storage brings information closer to the location of where it is needed. Better yet, it is tipped to increase privacy and security for the user and their files.

Technology has evolved over time from storing data on a central mainframe, then to personal computing, and later to cloud computing. Edge computing is the next logical step in this progression.

This next evolution is only possible because devices are stronger yet cheaper to produce. The expectation of perennial internet connection means modern devices come loaded with additional computing power, and progressing to these agile devices is simply not as expensive as it once was. Consider the retail prices of small SD or USB flash drives, then reverse calculate for factory prices.

Contemporary cloud data is primarily hosted by, well, cloud servers – which means it is primarily hosted by a handful of multinational tech companies. For example, Amazon’s public cloud accounted for 47 percent of the market in 2017. However, the increase to capable devices throughout the modern home makes edge computing not only viable, but practical. Instead of hosting personal data on the leased cloud storage of a company, why not keep it at home on the devices that produced the data? The privacy and latency benefits to device users and vendors speak for themselves – and this transition looks more likely than ever thanks to 5G.

But what’s in it for me?

So, what does 5G mean for the average IoT and mobile user? Simply put, better speeds which herald the potential for better security. Upload and download speeds limit what is moved to and from cloud storage – but this could all be about to change. The speeds of 5G give users cause to pause and consider why their data is stored where it is. When created and backed by powerful devices within their own home, it makes sense that a rethink of where users store their sensitive data is on the horizon.

Such a move to edge computing, as prompted by 5G uptake, would be a win for tech creators, consumers and even those previously mentioned multinationals. As noted by The Verge, edge computing means lowered culpability for storage of user details. iPhone security and privacy features are a good example of edge computing as they host sensitive biometrics or encryption information on user devices rather than the cloud. In this way Apple actually relieves themselves of much of their responsibility for the handling of user security information.

For users, the rise of the edge means privacy on their terms. Data on the edge remains under the user’s control unlike the unknown of the cloud. Better speeds heralded by 5G make the transfer of this data transfer easier – but the conversation then comes back to device latency to make sure the fastest network ever created does not go to waste.

It is no good having the connection for it to then be sabotaged by lagging latency. IoT users and creators need to play ball to realize 5G’s potential by utilizing peer-to-peer connection types. Similarly, the elimination of the cloud server middleman between device and client application only serves to heighten privacy for the end user.

With fast 5G connection and devices getting cheaper to make, users are likely to move to edge computing for #privacy benefits. #respectdata Click to Tweet

From keeping the files on servers they know and trust, to downloading directly over connections they create, edge computing as supported by 5G offers data liberation for the user of today. The coming 5G revolution promises to progress the development of the digital society. If this is to happen with users at the forefront, unlocking such speeds to take back data control could prompt a monumental shift in private security for the 21st century.


CEO and Founder at Nabto