5G will drive a quantum leap in the mobile cloud landscape. While a significant increase in speed is the most obvious benefit, 5G has other advantages that are going to create exciting new avenues in cloud computing that were previously impossible to accomplish. (See Making 5G NR a Reality With Qualcomm.)
Mobile devices' small screen size, low throughput, high latency and inconsistent connectivity contribute to cloud apps for mobile devices being watered down in terms of features and functionality. But there's hope on the horizon. First is the fact that mobile devices have made tremendous strides in their user interfaces. With high-resolution screens, multitouch capabilities and advanced voice-recognition, many end users are beginning to prefer working on their smartphones and tablets as opposed to traditional PCs.
That leaves mobile cloud applications with one final hurdle: the wireless carrier network. And this is where 5G comes into play. Of course, we've all heard about the LAN-like speeds of 5G. But many often forget about the ultra-low latency that is also expected. These two benefits of 5G are seemingly the most important when it comes to working in a client-server architecture such is cloud computing. That said, advanced antennas and software-based technology such as Massive-MIMO are also going to contribute to a LAN-like experience for mobile cloud users. With these advancements, expect greater per-cell-tower capacity, a more consistent network connectivity experience and improved wireless range -- especially inside buildings. (See Sprint Business: A Low-Latency Society & Big 5G Goals.)
We're not simply talking improved speed with 5G. Instead, we're literally talking about a network experience that rivals -- or even bests -- corporate LAN connectivity to the desktop. This will completely reset our cloud computing experience from mobile devices. Expect to see far more sophisticated mobile cloud apps that offer full functionality. Additionally, 5G is going to further advance areas that were once out of reach due to lack of proper connectivity. This is where big data, augmented reality and edge computing are going to truly take off.
Without a proper network that could deliver throughput and low latency with high consistency, cloud applications fall flat. Thank goodness that 5G is just around the corner. In many ways -- and for many enterprises -- it can't come quickly enough.
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— Andrew Froehlich is the President and Lead Network Architect of West Gate Networks. Follow him on Twitter @afroehlich.