‘Industry 4.0 nearby as presence of 5G and edge computing grows’

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In the first months of the year, various IT vendors predict important trends. Tech company Lumen is one of those suppliers. The company expects several existing trends to play a more prominent role in 2021. These trends include 5G and edge computing, which will shape ‘Industry 4.0’.

Lumen Technologies, as the company is officially called, has been around for a couple of months. Before, it was known as CenturyLink. That name still exists. However, most European customers will do business with Lumen. CenturyLink is the division focussing on traditional networks, while Lumen helps enterprises with ‘Industry 4.0’.

Industry 4.0 refers to business environments becoming increasingly connected, to monitor machines and devices and create a smarter way of doing business. An example of this is a ‘smart factory’. In those factories, technology ensures that devices talk to each other more, making it easier to see what is happening and thus achieving process optimisation.

To make Industry 4.0 possible, you need a solid infrastructure. That is what Lumen is trying to deliver with an ‘all-in-one platform’, i.e. an architecture for running as many applications as possible. To do this, the company combines cloud connectivity, network infrastructure and edge computing, among other things.

Expand 5G further

Since Lumen is still specialized in network infrastructure, it looks particularly at network trends. 5G cannot be ignored. In the past year, the foundation has already been laid for end-users. Many mobile operators throughout Europe have started broadcasting 5G signals, mostly in frequency ranges from 700 to 2100MHz.

However, this does not yet fully realise the potential of 5G. For this, the 3.5GHz band, and even a 26GHz band, are needed. When 5G is transmitted over these frequencies, significant speed gains and low latency will also be achieved. This will truly create a network capable of supporting new applications, such as smart cities and self-driving cars.

For businesses, 5G currently enables flawless video conferencing and quick file sharing in many locations, for example. This was more important than ever in 2020, and for the time being, these applications remain relevant. So we can expect even more from 5G, especially as telecom providers continue to adapt their networks to expand capacity and speed.

Edge computing will further enable Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 will also be shaped by the progress of the Internet of Things and edge computing. After all, these computers at the edge of the network are crucial for further harnessing the power of data. Of course, the cloud, local data centres, and strong internet connections are crucial for processing the enormous amount of data. Still, they are not suitable for every application because of latency, for example. That’s where edge computing comes in, allowing all kinds of data points to communicate with each other properly and quickly.

Edge computing will eventually find its way into all kinds of applications. Think of the agricultural sector, where, for example, the conditions of crops and the climate are measured. With this data, farmers can monitor and eventually influence the growth of the crops. However, edge computing is also useful in remote areas where an internet connection and the cloud can play a smaller role. In that case, you can think of an oil platform, where measuring things is also a step forward. Ultimately, there are numerous business applications to consider.

In 2020, companies were moving more and more to the edge, according to Lumen. The vendor expects this trend to continue this year. Lumen notes that the cloud helps store large amounts of data, allows the software to run externally, helps people work from home en masse and send a large amount of data. To ensure that critical information remains available in real-time, edge computing is a popular option. Companies are also opting to combine edge computing with a distributed cloud, so the network won’t be overloaded. Many important processes run at the edge of the network without directly accessing the cloud.

5G and edge computing are clearly on the rise, but these technologies can still take steps to mature and gain ground. In this way, they can eventually ensure that Industry 4.0 will be embraced much more widely. In any case, we are curious to see how these trends will develop further now that the foundations have been laid.