You Can Put all the Content at the Edge You Want, But It Won’t Matter Without Connectivity | EdgeMicro’s Mike Hagan Talks the Rollout of 5G at CAPRE’s Mid-Atlantic Data Center summit
LEESBURG, VA – 5G is on everyone’s mind in the tech space. Whether you’re a data center investor, network operator, fiber manufacturer, it’s on your radar. But from there, the paths diverge. And that’s what the panel “5G Industry Rollout and Edge Infrastructure Investment: What is the Impact Year to Date?” at CAPRE’s Seventh Annual Mid-Atlantic Data Center sought to address – what will the journey to 5G look like, and how are different stakeholders in our industry going to be a part of it?
Moderator Andrew Gold, Principal, Datacenters Unlimited Management Partners LLC kicked off the panel discussion by setting the tone. “5G is going to make it possible to do a lot of things. It will create a lot of value, have a lot less latency, it will mean great bandwidth and enhanced access to broadband, but we don’t know when it’s going to happen, or where it’s going to happen,” he remarked.
“In fact, [when and where it happens is] not up to any of us in this room,” he continued. “But we’re making decisions today to grow our business and put ourselves in a position to take advantage of 5G when it happens.” Hagan then looked to panelist Mike Hagan, CEO & Co-Founder of EdgeMicro for the first question of the session. “So Mike, how much energy do you put into making a plan for 5G?”
“A lot,” replied Hagan flatly, before digging in a bit deeper. “I think the industry is going to [see 5G] happen in two different phases. The MNOs and cellular providers have certainly set some very high expectations in terms of consumer experience and latency. Those things are all true. If you look at the roll-out of 5G and where it stands today, things are happening. From an Edge perspective, our goal is to connect everybody everywhere.”
So what’s taking place on the gorund? “All of the big names are talking 5G. Maybe they’re over-promoting it a little bit – mostly in the major metro areas, the places you’d expect,” he explained. “So the question becomes when will 5G be fully useable, what will the benefit be for the people outside of those major metros? And the fact is it’s probably going to be a long time. A really long time. If you look across the major cellular providers, here in the U.S. there is about 2.5 million 4G/LTE radios. How long did it take [to deploy those]? So there are some challenges.”
Hagan predicted that the big operators will eventually figure it out, but at the moment they’re struggling with how to monetize 5G. “So they’re going to do a good job, but fundamentally, as far as the Edge goes, mobility is what everyone is trying to be connected to,” he explained.
Hagan then made another forecast – that the roll out will happen in two phases. “[First will be] terrestrial connectivity at the Edge, which is really about fiber connectivity. And then, the CDNs and web giants and gaming companies of today place their content at the Edge terrestrially, it will morph into connectivity to 5G in the future,” he predicted.
Finally, he made one final point about the reality of these lofty goals. “We can put all the content at the Edge that we want, but it has to be connected. The speed of 5G is a benefit…but if the back-haul if still Denver to Dallas, what are you solving?” he asked the room of 300+ attendees. “You have a fundamentally 200-300 millisecond experience on a mobile device, if you make it 5G, it becomes 170 milliseconds. It’s just not that breaking…with the bar being set for 40 milliseconds or below, it just can’t be done without connectivity at the Edge.”
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