The Role of CDN in the 5G Era
Updated: Jan 13
The arrival of the 5G era is generating a lot of buzzes. As a leading global content delivery provider, one question we hear often is: How will the implementation of 5G impact the existing CDN, and in what ways? To answer the question, it is important to understand that the development of 5G takes phases. At each growth stage, 5G can offer different use cases and present the content delivery network with unique opportunities and challenges. Let’s take a close look at how CDN may evolve with 5G in the coming decade.
5G Phase 1: eMBB requires acceleration at the edge
The first commercialized feature of 5G will be eMBB, short for Enhanced Mobile Broadband, which emphasizes high bandwidth and high throughput of the network. Instead of primarily meeting the needs of individual internet users, 5G will heavily target industrial scenarios, such as manufacturing, production, industrial security, and other industry verticals. While the speed of the 5G network is expected to be about 10 times what we have today, the increased consumption of HD videos (4K/8K) in both individual and industrial scenarios will take the network traffic load to a new level. Intelligent security in manufacturing, for example, requires a large number of HD cameras to be added to the network and ultra HD videos will be produced and uploaded constantly. To take the huge load off the origins and the central network, it is critical that CDN provides more advanced acceleration, load balancing, and storage capabilities at the edge. CDN will need to play a more important role in the first phase of 5G than it is in the 4G era.
5G Phase 2: uRLLC brings leaps of edge computing
The second commercialized feature of 5G will be the uRLLC. uRLLC stands for Ultra Reliable & Low Latency Communication, which provides ultra-responsive and reliable connections. With about 5ms end-to-end latency between the user equipment and 5G eNodeB, it is ideal for use when it is critical to transmit real-time data, as in cloud gaming, virtual reality, unmanned driving, and remote medication. 5G unmanned driving, for example, will need to obtain maps from the cloud and upload road conditions to the cloud in real-time, placing strict requirements on network latency and reliability that only uRLLC can meet. Also in cloud gaming, due to uRLLC, a big part of the application computing may end up running on the closest edge servers instead of on users’ devices. These use case scenarios will likely require content distribution technologies to be more specialized and customized for specific services and applications. CDNs see a great opportunity to advance edge computing and application delivery capabilities to meet the needs of the new services enabled by uRLLC while tackling additional challenges in content routing, management, purging, and security.
5G Phase 3: mMTC facilitates the change of CDN network structure
During Phase 3, 5G will feature mMTC (Massive Machine Type of Communications) which supports a high density of devices and long-range transmission with low cost and long battery life, making it ideal for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. In industrial and agricultural scenarios such as oil and gas transmission, temperature monitor and humidity control, a gigantic number of sensors will be connected to the network and an enormous amount of data will be generated. The edges will have to handle a decent amount of computing and storage to take the load off the origin cloud. Other than sensors, as a large number of 5G base stations will be built, tens of billions of other “things” will be added to the network. CDN network nodes, therefore, will have to be placed in higher density to achieve better accuracy. A node may cover a radius of 10 kilometers in the past, now the coverage has to be reduced to a radius of 1 kilometer or even smaller. CDN network structure will hence look different from what we have today.
Overall, the definition of CDN will be significantly broadened in the 5G era; not only will the forms of the distributed content, applications, and services be greatly expanded, the network structure, business model, and the value chain relationship can also be very different from what they are today.
As 5G is beginning to take off, industry players are actively exploring possibilities with the next-generation network. At BaishanCloud, we have been dedicated to continuous innovation on the edge to meet the business and technical needs of the future. We believe heavy research is worthy to find out how to fully integrate critical technologies such as adaptive streaming, intelligent purging, TCP optimization into a smarter network, and how to push edge capabilities to the level needed in each stage of 5G development. To get more of our articles on the edge cloud industry, content delivery, and network security, subscribe to BaishanCloud's monthly newsletter.