Four Ways to Invest in the 5G Revolution

5G is here, and it’s set to bring a number of changes to the way we transmit information, conduct business, and even interact with one another. With changes of this caliber, we are likely to see some industries disrupted and brand new ones formed. We are going to cover four ways to invest in the 5G wave. 

Investment #1: 5G Hardware and Infrastructure

Although 5G simply means the “fifth generation” technology standard for mobile networking, there are a number of new technologies and infrastructure changes that correspond to this. 5G is bringing enhanced speeds and bandwidth, as well as ultra low latency. This decrease in signal processing time is what will allow real-time communication of information.

5G signals will travel at higher wavelengths than the predecessor generations. Due to this, the signals do not travel as far and cannot penetrate through walls as easily. Therefore, 5G will employ new hardware called “small cells”. Instead of one large tower servicing thousands of devices, small cells will be placed throughout cities on power poles and rooftops. 

Small cells are one example, but there are numerous other new hardware technologies that are being deployed with 5G. This is a lucrative opportunity for internet hardware and infrastructure companies, as the rollout of 5G is spanning over the next ten years and will have a global footprint. 

Investment #2: Internet of Things (IoT)

The cross-section of Internet of Things (IoT) with 5G could have an entire encyclopedia of content within itself. 5G is going to bring the total emergence of IoT, because the technology enables the perfect domain for IoT to thrive. 5G’s coverage will be further-reaching than previous generations, meaning more devices can be connected than ever before. It also brings the increased bandwidth and ultra low latency that we discussed, meaning an entire new realm of possibilities for information that can be transmitted.

We are used to IoT in the sense of smart appliances, cameras, thermostats etc. But 5G will open the floor for micro-devices, mainly referring to sensors. These are going to be used in numerous capacities from agriculture, utilities, power generation, and autonomous vehicles, just to name a few. These IoT devices will lead to a connected world like we could not have fathomed twenty years ago. 

With this will come countless areas for investment. Quite literally, pick an industry and search “[chosen industry] + IoT”, and see what is already in progress. We covered some of the agriculture use-cases here.

Investment #3: Cloud and Edge Computing

All of these additional devices transmitting more information than ever before means one thing. There will be an even greater need for cloud infrastructure to process and contain information. Cloud providers will see significant demand increase as there will simply be more applications that capture more data. 

We will also start to see a new trend of cloud computing emerge. The focus of this is on placing the data centers even closer to the collection points. When considering autonomous vehicles, for example, the information transmitted from a sensor on a car in motion needs to be processed extremely quickly. Even though these signals travel at the speed of light, a data center 1000 miles away may not be as efficient when information is needed in a matter of milliseconds.

This new trend of cloud is called Edge Computing. The primary difference is that the data processing happens physically close to the collection point, or on the “edge” of the cloud. As 5G technology will allow this [almost] real-time communication, the infrastructure will be changed to accommodate it. You will likely see existing cloud providers shifting into this. New providers will also emerge that focus specifically on edge computing infrastructure.

Investment #4: Security 

With all of the new technology and communication touchpoints that 5G brings, one thing is certain. Security is not only going to be of utmost importance, it also has to be intertwined throughout a growing network. 

It starts with the 5G infrastructure. As software routing methods are replacing some of the older hardware mechanisms, new security standards and methods will have to be introduced. In addition, an entirely new industry of IoT device security will emerge. 

This also comes during an era where consumers have more attention than ever before on privacy. Companies that handle sensitive customer data will have to ensure that secure methods are used for storing, anonymizing and protecting this data across a wide variety of devices and applications. 

We have only scratched the service on 5G, cloud, edge, and IoT security. A connected world will undoubtedly be subject to cyber attacks and attempts from countless angles. The cybersecurity industry will begin to look completely different over the next ten years. 

Final Thoughts

5G is the most transformational new technology the world will experience in the foreseeable future. With this will come new ventures, companies, and plenty of avenues for investment. 

How 5G is Transforming Cloud Computing

By now, you are likely at least vaguely aware of cloud computing. Everything is in the cloud. Want to store your pictures from your iPhone so you’ll have them forever? Sync to the cloud. The ability to share a trip itinerary with five of your friends and all edit the document at once? Edit on the cloud.

Cloud computing has come to play an integral part in our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. Much like how the internet changed the way we communicate and share information, cloud has taken that to the next level of connectivity. The ability to collect and process aggregate information from millions of devices and rapidly deploy software changes only scratch the surface. 

As 5G is introduced, it’s promising to bring changes across seemingly every industry. We’ve heard the basics: transportation, healthcare, video conferencing, etc. but how will it serve as a catalyst for other technology changes? 5G will affect and maybe transform cloud computing, not only from the perspective of use-cases and applications for the technology, but the architecture and data flows of cloud as we know it.

Brief explanation of cloud today

Cloud computing, in the simplest form, is an infrastructure that gives the ability to store data on remote servers and transmit that data across the internet. The concept for cloud computing actually dates back to the ARPANET days in the 1960s, but the first application hosted in the cloud wasn’t live until 1999. 

Cloud computing is what enables “Software as a Service” (SaaS), and other “as a service” models, which have become the most widely used methods for businesses to connect to consumers and other businesses. Cloud computing allows companies that want to host a website or application to move away from “on-prem” hosting. This means they’re able to forego the need to invest in data center equipment and provides much more flexibility in the amount of data that can be collected and stored. 

A cloud provider such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc. typically has data center “farms” in a few locations around the world. Traffic from customer applications and websites are routed there, sometimes thousands of miles from the laptop or smartphone of an end-user.

This is a mile-high-level overview of cloud computing that skips the intricacies of the protocols, hardware, scaling and other details (we’ll cover more on that in another post). The pertinent information here is the scalability and flexibility of cloud in that it enables companies to rapidly expand the amount of data they are processing without the needed hardware infrastructure.

Cloud meets 5G

5G is bringing sweeping changes to how we connect, interact, and live our daily lives. Thanks to increased bandwidth and low latency, 5G will provide the infrastructure to share more data than ever before, at almost real-time speeds. With this will come transformational changes to cloud use and infrastructure.

In today’s world, we have smartphones. We may interact with, say, twenty five applications on our smartphones on a weekly basis, and those apps transmit data to the cloud (as well as sharing to other apps). In addition, we use tools for work, speak with a voice-assistant at home, and perhaps use a smart-watch or fitness tracker. Needless to say, we are connected in numerous ways and are directly responsible for quite a lot of data transmitted.

You haven’t seen anything yet. The first change resulting from 5G will be the sheer amount of data processed by the cloud. Thanks to the increased bandwidth and reliability of 5G, more devices will be connected to the cloud than ever before. This is the IoT revolution that you’ve likely heard about.

More devices on the cloud leads to a different world

When you think IoT today, you likely think of household items. Thermostats, refrigerators and cameras are some of the common ones. With 5G, the realm for these connected devices will no longer be constrained to a WiFi connection. This means that we’ll begin to see new devices emerging, quite literally, everywhere.

Sensors will account for a large portion of the new technology. Small devices that detect and record basic information. But as these sensors will be able to be housed essentially anywhere and connected to the cloud, the possibilities will be endless.

This is where it can be fun to think creatively. Farmers and agriculture companies are already rolling out sensors for measuring soil moisture levels. Robotic automation in manufacturing and logistics will be much more enabled. Navigation apps can become much more effective by utilizing sensors in street parking spots to provide real-time visibility of the best place to park your vehicle. (Or simply directs your vehicle autonomously.) 

In order to interact and serve their purpose, these devices will have to connect to some form of the cloud. 5G makes this widespread connectivity possible. This means that billions of new devices will be connected to the cloud across the globe, transmitting more data than the world has ever seen. But it doesn’t end here.

The real-time revolution

One of the primary cornerstones of 5G is ultra low latency. Thanks to new technology allowing this enhanced processing time, 5G will be able to support what is essentially real-time communication. This is what paves the way for the technologies like autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, and enhanced gaming. 

In the simplest sense, faster processing will mean more data transmitted to the cloud. The need for cloud computing will expand, not only from an increase in data, but an increase in applications leveraging real-time processing. 

Let’s back up and shift our focus back over to the fundamentals of cloud computing. We know that it involves connecting to data centers and that these data centers may be all over the world. Typically CDNs route web traffic from an application to data centers as close as possible to the client (end user). However, sometimes this server may still be thousands of miles away.

Radio frequency travels at the speed of light (almost.. slight delay due to atmospheric interference). This means that an autonomous vehicle sensing an object in the road and sending a signal to a server 900 miles away will have it there within a few milliseconds. But when dealing with real-time processing such as an autonomous vehicle, for example, these milliseconds can make a difference.

Cloud computing, but closer to the user?

Remember all the times you’ve heard how 5G was going to bring disruptive changes? Surprise!

Cloud technology will undoubtedly be critical in a 5G future, but it may look a bit different. This is what most are now referring to as “fog computing”, or more commonly, edge computing. The fundamental concept of edge computing is that it lies at “the edge of the cloud”. In another words – closer to the user. With a vastly higher number of devices connected and the increased need for real-time data processing, proximity will make all of the difference. 

Edge computing: the new cloud or simply an extension?

The concepts to cloud computing are extremely similar. However, the jury is still out on exactly what this technology will look like. Currently, the cloud computing market is mostly dominated by a few large players. With the need for smaller “data centers” that are scattered around, will control remain with the current providers? 

Many speculate that edge computing will not necessarily replace the need for cloud. After all, not every transaction has to be real-time. Therefore, a mechanism will likely arise that defines data movement priorities and what’s transferred where. Edge computing will handle the transactions that need to be processed quickly, while larger or lower priority transactions can be processed by a larger [more scalable] data center. 

This brings an entire realm of new possibilities and changes. From security, to information tracking (enter blockchain?) and even real estate (where do all of the micro data centers go?). With cloud, and the newer “edge” computing, we’ll see data transfer completely differently.

Final thoughts

Cloud technology has been the backbone for the majority of the information sharing we have today. With the introduction of 5G, this infrastructure will evolve. The cloud, as we know it today, will no longer exist.