In 2020, Edge Clouds can reduce latency to about 15-25 ms in 5G, ~10 ms more in LTE.  Today's 4G LTE networks take 30 ms to 70 ms and more. Everything we do today works on  4G, of course. Some apps will benefit substantially from lower latencies, especially gaming. Some new apps will develop when lower latency is available. Multi-player Pokemon looks great.

To write Strategies for 5G, I needed to understand the impact of Edge Clouds. The first half dozen experts provided me with about seven opinions, often conflicting, They couldn't even agree on a definition. After a month of research and two dozen more conversations, I am less clueless. I divided the different Edge proposals into five levels. 

Level 1 will require 1 ms 5G air latency, which is still in the labs. The 5G deploying is about 10 ms.

Level 2 is close to the cell, which adds 5-10 ms to the air latency. The first unit of the type is now installed in Chicago by Vapor IO. They promise nationwide coverage by 2020.  

Level 3 is further back in the carrier network and a little slower. Deutsche Telekom's system, mostly constructed, expects 20-25 ms.  That's the supply side.

To determine demand, I put together this table of likely apps. Everything will be a little crisper but few so far will pay for that.

The first group work fine in LTE, although gamers do love speed. The biggest factor here is video, 60%-80% of the traffic. Channel changes and directory lookups will go faster, but once the video begins the difference is minimal. My Netflix works fine today at 4K. Connected cars, IoT, Telehealth and others have little need for low latency.

The second group definitely benefit from the capacity or speed boost. Fixed wireless is the major one here. It works fine in 4G, but in volume draws a lot of data. Verizon hopes to sell 8 million lines by 2023. It will need capacity. AR/VR/SR will definitely improve with 15-20 ms latency. Some think lower. Multiplayer Pokemon is slow on today's networks and wants the speed. The third group would benefit from low latency, but the volume will likely take years to develop. The reliability improvements are scheduled URLLC, several years away.

Politicians and pundits often refer to bogus use cases. Don Butler of Ford reminds us that "autonomous cars do not need a connection." Otherwise, what would they do when they lose the signal.  Connecting cars for entertainment and information is becoming big but is less demanding.  Even more ridiculous is the claim 5G is needed for remote surgery. Nearly all remote surgery will be performed in an office with a landline, usually high quality. Unless a surgeon is operating from the beach, wireless isn't needed at all.

Corrections and improvements are very welcome. daveb@dslprime.com

 

  Works in LTE? Lower latency good Improved by Edge
       
Video yes Not when streaming  
Connected cars yes little advantage currently  
IoT, most yes Works on 4G  
Advanced gaming yes Really likes speed  
Telehealth yes    
Fast access to cloud services yes unclear  
       
5G could be important      
       
Fixed Wireless yes
Verizon going wide, others limited
 
AR/VR/SR Only some Usually Probably
Security operations unknown apparently unknown
Industrial plant control ? Bosch, BMW, and others seek spectrum in Germany Yes, on site
Facilities for competitors yes   Edge
Remote-vehicle control ? ? ?
Live video production yes ? ?
Realtime processing   When needed When needed
Agriculture ?    
High frequency trading no yes yes
       
Limited at least for several years
     
       
Drone control probably    
Reliability unproven unproven unproven
       
Exaggerated      
       
Autonomous cars      
Remote surgery      

dave ask

@davescomm

Rethinking Jan 27: Coronavirus could invalidate all projections. I reported on AIDS for 2 years. This could be worse because it spreads in air. Let us hope and pray.

Details on all 5G phones, as prices drop to $285 ** All actual 5G networks worldwide ** Facebook ordered to repost Italian fascist page. ** Apple China sales down 35%** Qorvo sees 300M 5G 2020 & 750M 2023 mmWave <10%

** Bharti demands India Gov more than double prices and enforce cartel. Sunil Mittal "Situation is dire. It is a matter of survival for everyone." ** Wi-Fi 6 meets ITU 5G criteria @stephenjcrowley ** Samsung $8B for Chinese memory plants ** Morgan paying billions for Altice fiber

Dec 10 Sprint bringing $300-500 5G phones to US 2020. Nokia, Lenovo, HMD ** H., Apple, and AMD doing 5 nm test runs on TSMC's 5 nm. Early results are 15-30% better than 7 nm ** AT&T low-band 5G built to >65% US. Speeds slower than 4G at launch. ** 

Verizon CEO Ronan Dunne: >1/2 VZ 5G "will approximate to a good 4G service" Midband in "low hundreds" Mbps ** CFO John Stephens says AT&T is going to cut capex soon. ** Huawei in 16 days sold 1,000,000 5G Mate 20s.  

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Welcome  Asia is installing hundreds of thousands of 5G radios and adding 5G subs by the tens of millions. The west is far behind. 200,000,000 in 2020

The demand is there, and most of the technology works. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

I'm Dave Burstein, Editor. I've been reporting telecom since 1999. I love to hear from readers and say thank you when you find an error. daveb@dslprime.com

Also see

analysisbranch.com,

fastnet.news

huaweireport.com