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GA Insiders Talk 5G + The Edge at Atlanta Summit: “It Depends on the Market and the Application”

Oct 31, 2018
by Josh Anderson

ATLANTA, GA – The Edge is changing before our eyes, but we may not have seen anything yet, especially when you consider the advent of 5G. That’s why CapRE makes it a priority to understand where the Edge is headed next, and how it will get there. So at our Greater Atlanta Data Center Summit in August, we organized a round-table titled Life on The Edge: The Advent of 5G, Micro Data Centers & Evolution of the Next Generation. Below, we showcase a conversation around the arrival of 5G.

data center summit“So is blanketing the country with 5,000 or 10,000 micro edge boxes, is that the forecast?” began Moderator Donald Mitchell, Data Center Division Manager, Victaulic. “Is that the solution?”

“Well I’m going to go back to what Tim [Huffman] said before,” replied Bryan Weeks, General Manager – Southeast Region, EdgeConneX. “Would they like to build it all themselves? Yes. But can they built it all themselves, and then roll out 5G? No. So that is an opportunity for data centers to go in and work in that micro edge, in between those backhaul networks and the wireless guys.”

Next, Kevin Ooley, President and CFO at DataBank chimed in. “So we have done some studies. We are backed by a company called Digital Bridge, which is focused on digital infrastructure,” he began. “Their thesis is that whereas infrastructure investors of the past were interested in waterways, tollways, airports, etc. they’re now investing in everything to do with mobile data exchange — wireless towers, fiver, small cell and data centers.”

Kevin Ooley, President and CFO, DataBank

“With our sister company, Digital Bridge is the largest privately held wireless tower business. And next to that as a small cell provider, we have done studies to on deployments to find out, what does that look like?” mused Ooley. “And what we are finding is that it depends on the market and the application.”

“For us it comes down to latency,” Ooley continued. “If you have a cloud or content provider in California, and they’re delivering content to Minneapolis, that’s about a 42-millisecond latency. If you deploy a node in Minneapolis directly, there’s less than a millisecond of latency between those two. Going out 30, 40, 50 miles you might see a .3 millisecond or .5 millisecond increase. You’re talking about very low latency in that model. And so we think that getting all the way to the Edge, where you’ve got micro data centers, is the future.”

“And if you need more than .3 milliseconds latency, that’s virtually real time. And so those will happen. You’ve seen some examples. It will take time to get there. A lot of us are comfortable downloading a 4k movie with less than a millisecond of latency,” shared Ooley, preparing to wrap up his remarks. “But with the 5G perspective, 4G is about 50-70 milliseconds round trip, depending on the network configuration of where you are. 5G appears to be about 2 to 3. That’s a 95% improvement.”

“And the question is which of these applications require better latency than that?” he asked the room, rhetorically. “And that’s where you’ll see the adoption. But is there a crystal ball of what the end unit looks like, at the bottom of the tower? I don’t think anyone has that figured out yet.”

For more coverage of this panel, check out earlier CapRE Insider Reports:

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