The 5G Edge: Powering Innovated Experiences and Services

What communications service providers need to do to thrive at the 5G Edge.

Futurum is an independent research, analysis, and advisory firm, focused on digital innovation and market-disrupting technologies and trends.

The relationship between edge computing and 5G networks offers an exciting prospect for communications service providers (CoSPs). Consider the following statistics:

  • 61 percent of enterprises have already deployed edge computing tools or are currently researching them.1
  • Adoption of 5G will jump from 8 percent in 2020 to 70 percent over the next three years.1
  • Experts predict that the market for edge computing, along with complimentary 5G network offerings, will proliferate from USD 3.5 billion in 2019 to USD 43.4 billion by 2027.2

But what do these statistics mean for CoSPs? To delve more deeply into the ramifications of 5G Edge for CoSPs, Intel and Futurum Research conducted a thorough survey of more than 500 network engineers and architects across a broad geographic distribution, and representative of organizations of varying sizes. The resulting report provides substantial information that CoSPs need to take advantage of the 5G Edge opportunities on the horizon.

Here are brief summaries of the main sections of the report:

  • 5G Edge customer perceptions. The 5G Edge is only useful when it meets customer requirements and expectations and allows for applications and services to be offered at the right price, at the right time, and with the right features. Topping the list of enterprise and consumer concerns are cybersecurity, privacy and data protection, and multicloud administration.
  • Drivers of 5G Edge adoption. CoSPs can differentiate themselves from the competition by offering enterprises integrated security features, more artificial intelligence (AI), and analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.
  • 5G Edge implementation. Standalone implementation won't lead to 5G Edge success. Instead, CoSPs must adopt a collaborative mindset and DevOps practices to reduce time to market and solve operational challenges.
  • Opportunities for 5G Edge monetization. While 5G Edge use cases abound, the survey revealed that IoT, video surveillance, cloud gaming, content delivery networks (CDNs), and smart cities present the most promising monetization opportunities.
  • 5G Edge growth. More than a third of survey respondents expect the 5G Edge to drive enterprise capacity (bandwidth) expansion up by 11 to 20 percent within the next one to two years—but enterprise spend will grow more quickly (21 to 30 percent) across the same time frame. These predictions point to 5G Edge network efficiencies and higher adoption of hybrid/multicloud infrastructures.
  • 5G Edge barriers and challenges. Existing market gaps mean that some 5G Edge applications present significant challenges to implementation and monetization. These include augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), public safety, autonomous vehicles and smart cities. Barriers to adoption cited to be most significant include compatibility/interoperability between 4G and 5G environments, multicloud administration, digitalization and network function virtualization (NFV) enablement, and supplier lifecycle support and commitment.

The research findings revealed by this survey underscore the important of service providers keeping pace with the changes heralded by the 5G Edge, so they can optimize benefits that the 5G Edge can offer, today and in the future.