Communications technology is advancing at lightning speed. It has dramatically changed how businesses operate—and there's no going back. Global operations, remote offices, and a geographically dispersed workforce are now the norm, and real-time unified communications solutions are critical to keeping businesses in business.
Many business devices, tools, and technologies are integrated with and connected to the internet, streamlining communication between various stakeholders. Cloud computing has enabled the proliferation of smart devices, but delays occur because the data must travel between devices and data centers, disrupting real-time communication. The deployment of 5G stands to revolutionize the speed and capacity of mobile networks.
As businesses work to overcome the challenges of remote and interrupted work, they will need solutions that give them an edge. 5G holds the key.
Cloud computing at the edge
The public cloud has a significant impact on business communications. It levels the playing field between enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses—with cloud access, small and medium-sized businesses don't have to worry about in-house management or investing resources in data storage, helping them scale and grow faster.
By outsourcing data storage and infrastructure management, businesses can concentrate on their core competencies instead of investing precious resources into data management. However, data centers are usually located in places where land is inexpensive—far from urban business centers. Edge computing is a hybrid cloud solution that reduces data travel time; most of the data is processed close to where it is needed, with only some information traveling to the main data center. The benefits of edge computing include faster computing, reduced latency and reduced strain on devices, which can improve battery life.
Real-time communication for business
Latency is the lag time between when an app or device is told to take action and the moment the action occurs, and it is primarily influenced by the distance data has to travel. As network bandwidth gets better, latency decreases.
With organizations in every sector increasingly relying on connected devices, businesses have the opportunity to be more efficient and more productive. But latency could stand in the way.
Latency compromises the end-user experience. On mobile calls, for example, lag happens between when data is received and when it is processed. This interrupts communications, stifles productivity and frustrates workers.
Latency becomes an even bigger problem when the stakes are high, as in healthcare, manufacturing and public safety. For autonomous equipment on the factory floor or wearable medical equipment, high latency could have significant consequences.
In environments dependent on Internet of Things devices, even otherwise low latency can disrupt processing, depending on device interconnectivity. Latency must be minimized—and real-time unified communications is part of the solution.
Real-time unified communications, wireless networks and 5G
Not long ago, business telephone systems were handled by an organizations' local telephone companies. With the introduction of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems, voice data is transmitted over the internet, letting other communications tools integrate with VoIP in a less disjointed, more unified communications system.
Real-time unified communications cover IP telephony, instant messaging apps, audio, video, web-based communications and more. These tools aim to increase user productivity by streamlining communications, optimizing processes and reducing latency and interruptions caused by device dependencies. But they put a lot of strain on wireless networks.
The existing mobile network architecture wasn't designed to process such an enormous amount of data. The increased network demand from the influx of IoT devices, coupled with a substantially larger remote workforce, has stretched network capacity.
To meet the demand for near-zero latency, network architectures will need to undergo unprecedented restructuring. Cloud computing resources will need to extend to the edge of mobile networks so that data can be processed as close to the device as possible. Only minimal amounts of data should travel to the public cloud, which could be thousands of miles away. 5G network solutions can empower businesses to embrace IoT devices and machinery to build faster, smarter and more productive workflows.
The next generation of wireless networks is where edge computing meets 5G. The speed, low latency and capacity of 5G, combined with computing closer to the source, makes real-time communication easier.