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The 5G network is already here, and it promises to be a boon to many different technologies. One of its most promising applications is likely to be cloud computing. At the same time, the premise and practicalities of 5G will challenge the current cloud computing environment as much as they bolster it.

How will 5G impact cloud computing? In a 5G world, buffering will be all but extinct. Latency will no longer plague devices. All the data generated by the Internet of Things and other technologies will move through channels at lightning speed, which will be increasingly important as more data is created.


The impact of 5G on cloud computing, however, will test the technology as much as it emboldens it. While upload/download speeds will reach unreal levels, cloud infrastructure will need to not only meet changing technological demands but also the demands of those who use it. With 5G and the cloud, the sky’s the limit, but do companies know how to get the oxygen they need to survive at altitude?


How 5G Works

Like 3G and 4G before it, 5G networks use radio frequency waves for transmitting data. To become 5G, the download/upload speeds must be at least 20 gigabits (Gbps) (down)/ 10 Gbps (up). The increase in speed is substantial. To compare, the first 4G network saw speeds of 150 megabits and 15 megabits (down and up, respectively), and the world was delighted by those speeds. In other words, 5G is a kind of fast that’s currently unprecedented, particularly from the perspective of the average user.

The big selling point is that 5G speeds will bring latency to all but an end. The latency rate will drop from 30 milliseconds on 4G to as low as 1 millisecond with the new 5G network. For the human experience, the wait for two devices to communicate will be imperceptible.

The impact of 5G will be huge for so many industries, particularly those that rely on the increasing influence of big data and analytics. Why? Because the key to unlocking the next generation of business data analysis is collecting both more and increasingly complex data and using machine learning and artificial intelligence to parse it. Using 5G to be able to create, store, use and share that data will be a huge benefit, and it will touch every industry, particularly those that rely on cloud computing.


Why 5G Could Challenge the Cloud

5G could both burnish and challenge the cloud, but let’s start with the potential it offers to test it. The original purposes of the cloud were to make it easy to share large files (or large numbers of files) between devices as well as provide a back-up and recovery system in the event of an IT disaster. The cloud helps manage the issue of latency, which represents the amount of time it takes for information to make it from the browser to the server.

With 5G speeds, the issue of latency is no longer a problem, which means that this particular purpose of cloud computing is no longer relevant. However, cloud computing is so established that it seems unlikely those who have adopted it are unlikely to go back to sending full files between devices. Sending so many messages and attachments is both clunky and contributes to the deluge of emails that already plague businesses and employees.

At the same time, the reverse of the problem is also a challenge. Clearly, the cloud is here to stay. But as people can download bigger files in no time at all, devices will require far more cloud storage than is currently available, particularly at the enterprise level. Cloud companies will face pressure to provide more data storage for different devices, and there will be price pressure to deal with as well. It will be particularly important with the concurrent growth of the IoT, which increasingly includes devices with little-to-no internal storage capacity.

Cloud providers both for the consumer and enterprise market will feel this pain in equal measure.


5G Will Usher in a New Era of Cloud Computing

The challenges faced by current cloud providers will also grow as telecom providers find themselves getting in on the game.

According to Intel, 5G will usher in a new era of cloud computing it refers to as Cloudification. Cloudification will allow mobile network operators to innovate in responses to new demands but with the flexibility of cloud computing, which means they’ll be scalable, intelligent, and rely on distributed data centers in the form of a sort-of hybrid cloud. In other words, Intel says that 5G will allow the extension of the cloud platform and capabilities to communications networks.

The impact of 5G and Cloudification on networks is important because it will help unlock technologies that exist but are still waiting for better virtualization. Self-driving cars are just one example of an area that will see huge advancements thanks to the Cloudification of 5G telecoms networks. Autonomous cars and the systems required to run them demand incredible data processing capabilities combined with speeds that don’t flinch. Without these two components, cars virtually can’t function — at least not safely. However, it’s also important to remember that these vehicles will be very vulnerable in the face of the new security challenges brought on not only by the on-board tech but also by 5G and its need for increased software usage to run the network.


Ultimately, 5G will challenge and change the cloud, and it will also see cloud computing take on new forms. Cloud providers will need to be nimble in order to respond to new demands, but if they rise up to the challenge, a whole new world of possibilities could soon be ours.