How the Micro Edge will Solve for 5G

By Phill Lawson-Shanks, Chief Innovation Officer, EdgeConneX®

5G will be one of the major enabling technologies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, enabling ubiquitous high bandwidth connectivity between the hosted platforms that shape our lives and the countless things and devices that help us work, learn and play.

Over the next six to 18 months, we will see small MIMO (Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output) antennas begin to appear in public spaces across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. In metro areas up and down our main streets and highways, and throughout or pedestrian thoroughfares, these new devices will be placed on light poles, on the outside and inside of buildings, as well as in subway systems. Utilizing higher frequency millimeter waves in the 30 GHz to 300 GHz range rather than 4G/LTE's sub 6 GHz, 5G has the capability to provide up to 20 Gb/s of data, which is twenty times faster than its predecessor. This incredible improvement will enable a whole new suite of platforms and services that will propel us beyond "information at your fingertips" to "location and contextual specific data at a glance." And with the pervasiveness of the smartphone and its incredibly high-quality video capture capabilities, 5G could transform almost every person on the planet into a real-time broadcaster. Depending on your views of reality TV, this will either be an exciting development, or facilitate the downfall of human society as we know it.

Given this incredible step in the function of communications and the data it will generate, we need to take a step back and consider the underlying network infrastructure upon which this new fabric will rely.

Regular readers of these blogs will have heard us discuss how the internet was never designed or built for the services we run across it today. Our portfolio of Edge Data Centers® (EDCs) has enabled our clients to quite literally change the internet landscape by delivering content, cloud and peering at the lowest latency to their clients, exactly where they need them to be.

When we connect 5G infrastructure even into the telco's private backbones, it will be the equivalent of pouring a gallon bucket of water into a coffee cup. Once again, we will need to rethink the underlying network infrastructure.

The most logical choice is to aggregate blocks of MIMO antennas back to multiple, strategically located, secure and managed enclosures, allowing the data request/updates, including social media, OTT streams and cloud access, to be either transacted locally/regionally while directing the voice or telco services back to the appropriate service providers’ network infrastructure.

At EdgeConneX, we call these enclosures microEdge Data Centers (mEDCs). And depending on the location, customer need and network proliferation, our mEDCs range in size from that of a mini refrigerator to an ISO-scale shipping container and several sizes in between.

With our portfolio of ePOP access and space rights in thousands of commercial and office buildings across the U.S., EdgeConneX is uniquely positioned to assist our clients and partners in disrupting and enhancing the internet once again. The highly modular, secure and reliable microEdge Data Center continues EdgeConneX's charter of "Space, Power and Connectivity, where you need it and when you need it."

The Internet of Everything requires the Internet of Everywhere.