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.
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