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Inside the 5G Edge Hype: Most Use Cases Are Tests

Global Io T

By: Mary Jander

A focal point of 5G hype has been the vertical edge – the location of networking, storage, and compute power close to the data source, be that in a factory, hospital, retail outlet, smart city, farm, or elsewhere. While there are numerous edge solutions available and in deployment, there are few that utilize 5G.

Futuriom has been doing a deep dive on 5G edge use cases through our Cloud Tracker Pro service which has illuminated something for us: Search for 5G edge use cases and you’ll find mostly testbeds and trials, not actual instances of adoption of 5G and edge for business purposes. And most of the so-called news is being published by the sponsors of these experiments -- tests which in several cases have gone on for over 18 months.

Case in point (no pun intended): Corning (NYSE: GLW) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) first announced a joint project to “co-innovate” automation of the fiber optic cable maker’s leading factory in Hickory, North Carolina, in 2019. Edge compute from Verizon, along with the carrier’s 5G Ultra Wideband service, would streamline the collection of data from sensors and machinery for quality control. Augmented reality would help manage inventory, and autonomous guided vehicles would roam the factory floor.

Fast forward to April 2022, when Corning SVP and general manager of optical communications Mike Bell reportedly stated about the 5G experiment: “It’s nothing that we’re going to do tomorrow, but it’s something that we’re thinking about and just dreaming about.”

Dozens of Demos

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