September 6, 2018
One interesting aspect of the 5G applications research and development underway by carriers and enterprises is the potential new lease of life it could give to wireless thin client devices.
The basic concept behind a thin client device was born in the 1980s, envisaging a PC-like device with limited onboard compute power that got most of its horsepower by being wired to a server. Now, with 5G, an always-on thin client -- loaded with solid state memory -- would be wirelessly connected to the cloud, which handles the heavy lifting.
With up to gigabit speeds, 1ms network latency and the ability to support multiple device connections with partitioned services on a network (network slicing), 5G offers intriguing prospects for such units: The near-instantaneous connection between client and the cloud over a 5G network promises capabilities not seen before for wireless thin clients.
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In fact, carriers have already been looking at multiple thin client applications, from electronic trading to gaming and advanced information consoles in stadiums, museums and other public spaces. (See Verizon Shows the Shape of 5G to Come and 5G: The Pervasive Infrastructure .)
5G thin clients are unlikely to supplant 5G smartphones as primary consumer devices: In fact, the first 5G smartphones are likely to arrive early in 2019. (See A 5G Device Timeline for 2018 & Beyond.)
As part of a new diverse range of devices enabled by 5G, however, and with a push from enterprises in need of specialist financial, medical and public data applications (as well as sophisticated point of sale terminals), thin clients could be revitalized for the 5G era.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading
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